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The next Boston police commissioner will be required to reside in the city, Mayor Wu’s office confirms

Commissioners are required to live in the city, but residency of the department's chief executive has stirred controversy before.

Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
Boston Police Headquarters on June 9, 2021. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Mayor Michelle Wu’s office has confirmed the next commissioner of the Boston Police Department will have to follow the city’s residency requirements when the future chief takes the job.

The Wu administration clarified the next commissioner, whoever that may be, will follow the department’s residency requirements, in response to an inquiry from the Boston Herald on Thursday.

The clarification came as the pro-residency group, Save Our City, said candidates for the job should be disqualified if they do not plan on residing within city limits.

Under the department’s union contracts, department members must live in the city for at least the first 10 years of their time on the force.

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Sworn members of the city’s command staff must reside in the city, under city ordinance.

“They should not be held at a different standard than a patrol officer walking in the door,” Eileen Boyle, a member of the city’s Residency Compliance Commission board and a leader of Save Our City, told the Herald. “They need to set an example for the department.”

Some of the department’s top officials often own or rent a property in Boston in addition to a home outside the city, and split their time between the two, as the newspaper noted.

But that has created controversy before, such as for former Police Commissioner William Gross.

A report last year from DigBoston found Gross was not listed as the owner for either his Boston abode or his Milton home, blurring the line of where the commissioner spent most of his time off hours.

In 2018, a month after he was appointed commissioner by then-Mayor Marty Walsh, Gross still told the Patriot Ledger he was a Milton resident.

He also was not registered to vote in Boston until 2019, according to DigBoston.

Under city ordinance, all sworn members of the department’s command staff must be a city resident and registered Boston voter within six months after taking their jobs.

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Gross didn’t change his voter registration though for well over a year after he was sworn in.

Boyle told DigBoston last year there are regularly a few dozen department members who do not submit annual compliance paperwork.

“Every year, we have a list of people that don’t get their paperwork in. We chase them all year long,” Boyle said. “I kind of put it on the department heads themselves. They are the ones that seem to not be able to rally their employees to get the work done.”

The Wu administration has so far not revealed the finalists wrangled together by a search committee, though Wu’s office told the Herald on Thursday officials will have more to say on that soon.

“We are vetting the final candidates and expect to make an announcement soon,” her office said.

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