The former outgoing director of the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, Shantay Jackson, sent texts to former Police Commissioner Michael Harrison during a city council budget hearing that talked about getting “rid of Barksdale,” the former deputy police commissioner and critic of the city’s public safety strategies. Anthony Barksdale joined the city as a deputy mayor for public safety in July 2022. “We can take him down and figure out the rest,” Jackson added in a message to Harrison. The texts were obtained and reported by The Baltimore Banner through a public records request.
Word of Jackson’s resignation leaked on May 11. Two days later, Harrison said he submitted his 90-day notice of resignation, which was kept under wraps until after Harrison was repeatedly pressed about his future at a June 6 City Council hearing. As Harrison was questioned by Councilman Eric Costello, Jackson sent him a series of texts. “It’s collective bargaining time,” she wrote — it’s unclear what she meant — and then said it was “[t]ime to get rid of Barksdale.” She added, “You and me unless you’re already out. You have my respect either way.” Harrison did not respond to her subsequent messages that night. Harrison didn’t address specifics of his interactions with Barksdale but said: “I’m a professional; I can work with anybody. He had nothing to do with my decision to leave, my timing.”