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What Kim Janey said ahead of Wednesday’s hearing for Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White

"At this point, it is time to move forward."

Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

On the cusp of a hearing scheduled for Wednesday to determine Boston Police Commissioner Dennis White’s future at the department’s helm, acting Mayor Kim Janey said Tuesday her staff is reviewing video affidavits submitted by his family that claim White, accused of abusing his wife, was in fact the victim of domestic violence.

The videos capture statements from White’s daughter and sister-in-law regarding the decades-old allegations against White that quickly hampered his tenure as commissioner soon after he was sworn-in in February.

“My team is looking at these videos as we speak, and we will certainly consider all information,” Janey said during an appearance on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio.” “I’m not sure why this information was not captured in the investigation, where folks had an ample opportunity to make their case there.”

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White, 59, has been on administrative leave since The Boston Globe first raised questions about allegations from 1999 that he pushed and threatened to shoot his then-wife.

An independent report released last month identified an additional assault allegation from 1993, in which a neighbor said they saw White hit his niece-in-law after she kicked him in an argument.

White denied specific allegations against his wife, although his attorney admitted “there were incidents of fighting” between the two spouses that sometimes led to “physical contact.” White admitted he slapped his niece, but the unidentified woman said it was a punch.

Tiffany White, 39, the oldest daughter of Dennis White and his ex-wife, said in one video that her father was never violent and that he was abused himself, according to The Boston Herald.

“She was always attacking him when she was mad,” Tiffany White said in the video. “She once picked up a portable TV and threw it at him. … A vase bounced off him and shattered.”

Tiffany White also claimed her mother beat her with a belt and once punched her so hard that she couldn’t breathe, the newspaper reports.

“She punched me in my back because I was doing the dishes slow … the pain shot in my back and I couldn’t breathe,” she said.

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Sister-in-law Connie Owens corroborated that instance.

“(My sister) balled up her fist and hit (Tiffany) in the back so hard … thump,” said Owens.

Janey said Dennis White will have the chance to “make his case” on Wednesday during the virtual, closed-to-the-public hearing on whether he should be removed as commissioner.

But Janey also suggested Tuesday she intends to follow through on firing him. (She noted, however, officials “will make a determination based on all of the information” presented.)

“The investigation, the report that came out, is pretty clear in terms of what those findings were, and I think there are also just concerns of what has happened in the last two months, in terms of him serving as commissioner, even though it was just two days before he was put on leave,” Janey said. “What is clear is that we need to move our city forward, we need to move our police department forward, we need to have a leadership that can tackle many of the long standing issues when it comes to the culture of fear, the culture of the blue wall of silence,” and carry out reform measures mandated by state lawmakers and recommended by a city task force last year.

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During the third-party probe, conducted by city-hired attorney Tamsin Kaplan, many officers refused to speak to investigators. Janey reiterated the police force must overcome that department culture.

But GBH co-host Jim Braude also highlighted that Kaplan did not speak with Tiffany White, who has since released the video affidavit. He asked Janey how that’s fair to the now embattled commissioner.

“What came out in this investigation, by Dennis White’s own admission, is that he’s struck a 19-year-old woman over a fight around $10,” Janey said. “That came out, his words. You know, at this point, it is time to move forward and we need to have leadership in our department that would not reinforce the blue wall of silence, that would not deter other victims of assault, of abuse from coming forward.”

Should Janey terminate Dennis White from serving as commissioner, Janey said the city should hold a nationwide search for his successor and conduct a process that includes community weigh-in.

Braude pressed Janey whether she believes she has the authority to make a permanent appointment while serving as acting mayor.

Janey, one of six major candidates for mayor, said her administration can make an interim appointment, but stopped short of saying whether she could appoint a permanent successor and whether a replacement process could stretch past this fall’s mayoral election.

The process could take months, she said.

“I would make sure that our search committee, if this is the route we’re going, lays out a timeline and a process by which we will get there,” Janey said. “But what I will say, and be very clear, is that we will not put forth a process that would be rushed and have a candidate or a finalist who has not been fully vetted.”

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