Politics

BPD Commissioner William Gross likely considering mayoral run, source says

Gross became the first Black officer to oversee Boston’s police department in August 2018.

Police Commissioner William G. Gross during a press conference outside City Hall in Boston, MA on November 4, 2020. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff)

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The suddenly wide-open race for Boston’s next Mayor is heating up as Boston Police Department Commissioner William Gross is reportedly “90 percent” likely to add his name to the growing array of candidates.  

City Councilors Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell announced their intention to run for the office last fall, and after Mayor Marty Walsh was nominated to be the incoming U.S. labor secretary, WBZ’s NightSide host Dan Rea said Sunday that Gross may be next. 

“A source very close to Willie Gross reached out to me last night and told me that he is 90 percent of the way there, just checking off with a couple of family members to make sure that everybody is on board,” Rea told the radio station. 

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Gross became the first Black officer to oversee Boston’s police department in August 2018. During his three-plus decades on the force, according to his bio on the city’s website, he has served as a police academy instructor, a patrolman in several districts, and an officer in the gang and drug control units. 

Once Gross ascended to Deputy Superintendent in 2008, he served the Roxbury, Mission Hill, Mattapan, Dorchester, and South Boston neighborhoods by addressing crime trends, local concerns, and showing up to community meetings. 

Later, Gross became the commander of the Field Support Division, which included overseeing the Youth Violence Strike Force and the School Police Unit. By 2012, he was promoted again to Superintendent Night Commander, which left him responsible for all police responses to evening incidents in the city. 

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“I think people have looked to him truly as a public servant,” Rea told WBZ. “A lot of politicians will say they’re public servants, but what they’re doing is they’re looking for a political office to maybe become a stepping stone toward another political office.”

Yet in recent months, as protests against systemic racism and police brutality swept across the nation and city, his department has come under pressure, becoming a target for community complaints as many have called for deep cuts to police funds. 

City Councilor Michael Flaherty, a name that has also been tossed around as a potential mayoral candidate, told The Boston Globe Sunday that a Gross candidacy would be a factor into his decision.

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Flaherty neither confirmed nor denied whether he would run, the newspaper reported, but did note how Gross is “well-liked and respected across the city and he would be able to raise a lot of money quickly.”

“People are calling me across the city saying ‘If you’re not running, I’m with Willie Gross,’” Flaherty said.

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