Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Carley Milligan, Digital Editor for the Baltimore Business Journal. As a Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce Board Member, Carley was curious to the business community's expectations and opinions of the newly-appointed acting commissioner.
Below is an excerpt that includes both my opinions and those of GBC CEO, Donald Fry.
GBC CEO Donald C. Fry said the business advocacy group sold about 60 tickets in four days, weeks ahead of the Feb. 25 event. The GBC has since expanded the event to allow more of its member companies to register, and if interest continues, Fry said they will look for a larger venue.
The business community is looking for the new commissioner to display "stability and leadership," Fry said. Those traits, plus the ability to execute a plan and strong communication skills are what many say Harrison will need to succeed and bring crime rates down.
Mostafa Razzak of the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce said in particular, owners of bars and restaurants in the city have been the most vocal about the need for crime reduction. Razzak, who is the public policy chair for the chamber, said those businesses have been hit hard over the past two years or so as fewer people come into the city at night.
He pointed to last year's high number of restaurant closings and incidents like Halloween 2017 when bars in Fells Point closed early out of safety concerns on one of the busiest nights of the year for partying.
"How much did they lose by not being open? I know it really hurt businesses that month," said Razzak, who is also the CEO of public relations and digital marking firm JMRConnect.
He said it will be "paramount" to Harrison's success that he has good communication both externally with businesses and internally with those in the department.
"It's like changing a corporate culture if you will," Razzak said. "In the corporate world, people talk about employee engagement and that needs to be happening in the police department as well."