Michelle Wu names panel to lead Boston police commissioner search
BOSTON (AP) — Boston Mayor Michelle Wu appointed a five-member panel Thursday to lead the search for a new police commissioner after the previous one was ousted this year when decades-old domestic violence accusations came to light.
Wu said the panel includes law and public safety officials and community leaders and will be chaired by retired Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Geraldine Hines.
The committee will hold public meetings, identify and interview prospective candidates, and make recommendations to Wu. The current acting police commissioner — Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long — will remain until a permanent commissioner is appointed and will help advise the committee.
“With the support of Justice Hines, Commissioner Long, and this remarkable group of civic leaders, we are taking a critical step in our broader efforts to bring new standards of accountability and oversight to policing, enhance public safety for all our residents, and build community trust,” Wu said in a written statement.
Boston’s former police commissioner, Dennis White, was fired in June following a bitter battle to keep his job after domestic violence accusations surfaced.
Kim Janey, acting mayor at the time, announced White’s firing four months after he was placed on leave over the allegations.
“It is clear that Dennis White’s return as commissioner would send a chilling message to victims of domestic violence in our city and reinforce a culture of fear and a blue wall of silence in our police department,” Janey told reporters at the time.
White had tried to go to court to block his firing, calling the allegations false.
White was picked by Marty Walsh, mayor at the time, to replace Police Commissioner William Gross, the city’s first Black commissioner, shortly before Walsh was tapped to become President Joe Biden’s labor secretary.
Within days of his appointment, White was placed on leave by Walsh, who named Long acting commissioner before resigning and turning the mayor’s office over to Janey.
Other members of the commission named by Wu include: former Boston Police Department Commissioner Ed Davis; Greater Love Tabernacle Church Senior Pastor William Dickerson II; Teen Empowerment Executive Director Abrigal Forrester; and Jasmine Gonzales Rose, law professor and deputy director of Research & Policy at the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.
Wu and the search committee have a huge task on their hands, according to Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.
“Changing the culture of this department will not be easy. But Boston now has the opportunity to identify a police commissioner who is committed to transparency, accountability, and public safety for all people,” Rose said in written statement.
This story has been updated to correct the name of a former police commissioner to Ed Davis, instead of Ed David.
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