By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley and Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace were officially confirmed by the Baltimore City Council on Oct. 2. Worley and Wallace were nominated for their respective roles in July by Mayor Brandon M. Scott.
Former Police Commissioner Michael Harrison stepped down on June 8 after four years in the office, saying it was the right time to hand over the reins. Former Fire Chief Niles Ford resigned following the 2022 Stricker St. tragedy that killed three firefighters, according to earlier AFRO reporting by Khira Moore.
“We’re at a very vital point in our city as relates to public safety and we know that there’s been a tremendous amount of instability at the police department,” Council President Nick Mosby said to members of the press after the meeting inside of City Hall. “The council had to take action today based on the city charter. If we did not take action today. He would have become the next police commissioner.”
According to the Charter of Baltimore City, the power of appointments is almost solely in the hands of the mayor, but is subjected to a confirmation vote by the City Council. The council must take action on the nomination within three full council meetings. If the council does not decide by the third full council meeting, then the council automatically approves the appointment.
After Worley’s confirmation vote, protests broke out. Security could be seen escorting protestors out of the chambers where the hearing took place as they chanted slogans like “you don’t deserve to serve,” and held signs that read “Vote No on Worley.”
“I’m truly disappointed,” said Tawanda Jones, a protestor and sister of Tyrone West who was killed during an encounter with police. “We had only one person stand for what’s right and I’m grateful she did it. I’m sorry she had to do it alone.”
Councilwoman Phylicia Porter (D-District 10) was the sole council member to vote no.
“As a representative of District 10, where multiple mass shootings have occurred within my tenure as councilwoman, I cannot confidently commit to affirming a leader of this department without serious thought to our public safety leaders in Baltimore,” she said during the meeting.
Mayor Scott responded to the confirmations in a statement, congratulating Worley and Wallace.
“During my time in city government, I have seen firsthand the accountability, dedication, and hard work of these two public servants and their commitment to our great city,” he said. “Their wealth of experience and deep understanding of the ins and outs of their departments, as well as of the challenges that our city must address, make them the ideal leaders for these critical City agencies. I look forward to swearing them into their new roles soon.”
The swearing-in ceremony is the last step in the appointment process. The date has yet to be announced.