Mayor Marty Walsh Welcomes City’s First Black Superintendent-In-Chief To Police Force
Sticking to his promise to bring a range of diversity to his administration and appointments, Mayor Marty Walsh officially announced the appointment of the Boston Police Department’s first-ever African American Superintendent-in-Chief on Thursday.
“This was another step towards the fulfillment of my promise,” said Walsh, before welcoming Superintendent William Gross to the podium, in front of a packed room of reporters, to speak.
The appointment makes Gross the No. 2 in command of the department, just under newly selected Police Commissioner William Evans. Gross, a 28-year-veteran of the force, was hailed for his on-the-street police work throughout his career and his ability to connect with the city’s community.
Gross stressed that he would continue to push for that type of policing, putting officers on the streets to connect with residents in some of Boston’s toughest neighborhoods, to help reduce crime, and quell violence.
“It’s important to have community policing,” he said. “Want to reduce violence? We have to do this together. Everyone has to do their job in the community to the best of their ability, and put aside their differences and work together.”
Gross said he was excited to get started in his new role, noting that he had already made the switch from his usual police uniform and traded it in for some blue pants and a collared, white shirt. “It’s quite funny because here I am in a white shirt and blue pants, walking through the hood, and people didn’t know if I was a mailman or a cop,” he said, jokingly.
Evans, his new boss, chimed in keeping the press conference light-hearted, and said, “now they know,” drawing laughter from the crowd.
Earlier this week, Walsh announced that Evans would assume the role of Police Commissioner, a position he has held in an interim capacity since Ed Davis stepped down in November. “I’m honored to take on this position. I work with the greatest department in the nation. I’d like to say they put me here. Sometimes when you’re up at the top you get all the credit, but the men and women [of this department] have put me here,” Evans said during his introduction on Thursday.
Also on hand during the announcement on Thursday was Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley, who coincidentally ran against Walsh in the race for the mayoral seat. Conley’s office works closely with the Boston Police, and he said choosing Evans as the top cop and Gross as his second-in-command was a “home run” that sends a positive message to the city’s residents.
“It’s important that the [department] reflect the racial diversity of Boston. It’s critical,” he said. “Policing only works if we have support from the community, and we won’t have support if the office doesn’t reflect the cultural diversity of the city. But more important than racial diversity is excellence, and what you have done is pick someone that is both excellent, and represents the best diversity of our city.”
The appointments are the latest in a series of fresh faces picked to help Walsh run the city’s departments and offices.
Earlier in the week, Walsh announced his choices for a Chief of Staff and Policy Chief—decisions that both reflected his commitment to bring more diverse workers to City Hall.