Jul 14, 2022 - News

A veteran and victim of BPD is new police commissioner

New Boston Police Commission Michael Cox speaks at a lectern.
Michael Cox will become Boston police commissioner in August. Screenshot: City of Boston/YouTube

Michael Cox, a veteran of the Boston police force who was beaten by BPD officers while working undercover nearly 30 years ago, is Mayor Michelle Wu's pick to become the department's new commissioner.

Driving the news: Wu made the announcement Wednesday.

  • Cox will take over the BPD in August to become its first full-time leader since Dennis White was removed last year by then-acting Mayor Kim Janey amid a domestic abuse probe.
  • Superintendent-in-chief Gregory Long has been running the department while a search committee sought the next commissioner.

About him: Cox has been the chief of police in Ann Arbor, Michigan since 2019, and served in the BPD for 30 years before that.

  • He was raised in Roxbury and lived in Dorchester most of his life.
  • His previous roles included overseeing BPD training, leading the internal affairs division, and serving as commander of the Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park and West Roxbury districts.

Flashback: Cox may be best-known for the 1995 incident in which he was beaten unconscious by fellow officers who mistook him for a murder suspect.

  • Cox was working undercover for the gang unit when the assault took place.
  • He won a civil rights lawsuit against the city and exposed the department's efforts to cover up the assault.

Why it matters: Wu has called for the BPD to reform in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. She wants policing in America to be more accountable, especially to communities of color.

  • The mayor wants to reshape the BPD "through a lens of public health and community trust," according to her campaign website, and to overhaul union collective bargaining contracts to improve police accountability.
  • Cox will oversee Wu's reform agenda while managing the 1,600-person force.

What they're saying: At a press conference Wednesday, Cox said "if folks have issues — historical issues — we need to listen and show that we can take that criticism, and more importantly, that we hear them."

What's next: "Cox, 57, faces the task of reforming a police department in a city with public safety unions that are typically resistant to change," writes the Dorchester Reporter.

  • Cox's first priority will be letting the department know they have a leader from within their ranks, GBH News reports.
  • "I'm here to support, develop, include and work with each and every one of them in doing this very difficult job," Cox said at the conference.
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