As Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Burrell had long served as the No. 2 man in the Baltimore department, surviving by protecting the department's reputation as well as his own. Police work was always a secondary consideration. Required by a judge's prodding to look into the Barksdale drug organization, he was determined to do the absolute minimum, and to avoid any complex and revealing surveillance operations. When the Barksdale investigation widened to include corrupt public officials, Burrell was quick to bring it under control.
But later on, Burrell catered to Valchek's vendetta against Sobotka and allowed that investigation to go forward; skeptical as he was about its merits, he was not about trading favors, and he needed Valchek's support in his bid to become police commissioner. Once in the top spot, Burrell knew the value of loyalty and went out of his way to keep bad news out of the mayor's shop by getting in front of it - or heâ€™s tried to, at least. Caught off guard by Colvin's drug legalization scheme in the Western District, Burrell saved himself by taking responsibility for the fiasco, shielding Mayor Royce from criticism by his political rivals. The move guaranteed him a full term as commissioner. With Carcetti in the mayoral office, Burrell's "loyalty" has finally been exposed as entirely self-serving, but the commissioner's knowledge of Colonel Daniels' early days in the Eastern District — which may be incriminating enough to tarnish the mayor's golden boy — have kept Burrell in office so far.