Now in week six as Baltimore’s top cop, Commissioner Michael Harrison is starting to shuffle the department’s upper ranks and bring some of his own people aboard.
Among those: Daniel Murphy, the Baltimore Police Department’s incoming chief of consent decree compliance, and Eric Melancon, Harrison’s new chief of staff. Both served under Harrison in his last job as police superintendent in New Orleans.
And both are set to have their salaries approved by Baltimore’s spending board tomorrow. Murphy will be paid $195,000 per year on a five-year contract, starting April 8, while Melancon will have a $165,000 salary on a three-year contract, starting April 15.
The New Orleans Police Department announced Murphy and Melancon’s departures two weeks ago, with newly appointed Superintendent Shaun Ferguson saying New Orleans’ progress on its consent decree in recent years “would not have been possible” without them.
Murphy’s salary will be more than twice that of BPD’s current chief of consent decree implementation, Michelle Wirzberger, and Melancon’s will be nearly $30,000 more than what current chief of staff James Gillis makes.
Baltimore Fishbowl has reached out to the department to ask if Wirzberger and Gillis will be staying on with the department. Harrison told The Sun earlier this month that he expects both to stay on with BPD.
Gillis joined in October 2016 and has served through the rotation of Kevin Davis, Darryl De Sousa and Gary Tuggle as appointed and acting police commissioners. Wirzberger came aboard in early 2018 to help oversee Baltimore’s sweeping court-mandated reforms, leaving her post as executive director of the Midtown Community Benefits District.
Harrison announced the departure of longtime Baltimore cop Andre Bonaparte on Friday night as “part of the beginning of the Baltimore Police Department’s restructuring.” De Sousa brought Bonaparte out of retirement in 2018 to serve as his deputy commissioner. He’d previously served with the department for more than two decades before retiring and going into private security.
Bonaparte has testified regularly at council hearings on police overtime, violence and more since re-joining BPD. His last year has been somewhat fraught with controversies over his taxes and a reported confrontation with BPD’s chief of patrol.
“I want to thank Deputy Commissioner Bonaparte for the job he did under extremely difficult circumstances, and for his service and dedication to the Department and the City throughout his career,” Harrison said in a statement.
Harrison said he expects to announce an acting deputy “in the very near future.”
Tuggle, who stepped in as acting commissioner after De Sousa was indicted for tax fraud, has returned to his post as one of two deputy commissioners under Harrison left the department, chief spokesman Matt Jablow said Wednesday morning.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Gary Tuggle is longer serving with BPD. We regret the error.