Mayor Michelle Wu announced on July 13 that Boston native Michael Cox, who currently serves as the Chief of Police in Ann Arbor Michigan, will be the next and 44th commissioner of the Boston Police Department. Wu was joined by members of the search committee, elected officials, and other leaders at the Gertrude Howes Playground, where Cox played as a young boy growing up in Roxbury.
Cox also served in the Boston Police Department for 30 years prior to his role in Ann Arbor. “It has taken us a while to get here, and I don’t just mean the long seven months for our search committee hosting a thorough and diligent process grounded in community with hundreds of Boston residents weighing in on this very important decision,” Wu said. “It has taken us a long time to get here as a city.”
Wu said that “the task of the Boston Police Department is to deliver public safety through the lens of public health and community trust, and it’s not a simple one.” After about a half-year search, which Wu described as “rigorous,” the committee and city has “found someone who’s ready to take on this responsibility and serve all of Boston’s communities,” she said. When speaking about the qualities of a Boston Police commissioner, Wu said, “they must be someone who understands intimately the consequences of inequity and injustice, and they must be ready and willing to do the work required to not only repair these harms where they exist, but root out the injustice that creates them.” Wu said that the search included speaking to police officers, community leaders, young people, and other residents about what they would like to see in the next police commissioner. The committee held community listening sessions prior to the release of the job application and description, according to the City. “The committee was impressed by the wealth of experience that Chief Cox brings with him to this role, in addition to his creativity and community-oriented approach to public safety,” she said. “Having grown up here, having served in all of the roles in the department and elsewhere, he is uniquely positioned to build the public safety infrastructure that Boston deserves and continue building on the community trust and community policing that our city has led on for decades. This infrastructure will focus on addressing the causes of crime, prioritizing the health and safety of all of our residents, and driven by and rooted in our community.” Wu also thanked Acting Commissioner Greg Long for his service in the role, and said that he will remain superintendent-in-chief of the department once Cox is sworn in. “I do consider this a homecoming,” Cox said during his remarks, and thanked Mayor Wu. “Her vision for the city is very much how I see the vision for the police department. When we talk about things like diversity, equity, and inclusion, that’s very important for the police department. The police department needs to look like the communities in which we serve.” He said that in 1995, he was a “victim of unconstitutional policing,” and chose to work in public service “because I wanted to help the public.” He said that following this incident, he had a choice to stay or to go. “And I chose to stay, because I believe in policing in a community-friendly way and I know the men and women I work with believe in that same thing too.: Cox said his focus is to “grow and be a model for the police department,” and over several decades, he has held multiple roles within the police department. “We need to understand the people that we police and the communities that we police so that we never have any unintended consequences,” Cox said. He also said that officers and others within the police department will be supported and provided with the resources they need to correctly do their jobs, but the department will also “hold you accountable for all the things we ask you to do.” Cox also said that some things within the department will be done differently, and the wellness of officers will be supported. “We’re going to get feedback from our communities,” he said, as well as acknowledge the department’s history while moving forward. Retired Justice Geraldine Hynes, who chaired the search committee, said that “I am so proud and honored to be here and to say that Michael Cox is the fruit of our labors to find the best possible person for this moment in time in our history in the City of Boston. We have faith and trust in you, and we know that our faith and trust will be rewarded if you have the support of the department and the support of the City of Boston.” In a statement, District Attorney Kevin Hayden said, “Congratulations to Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox. His record of service is exemplary, and I’m grateful to have him as a partner in efforts to improve safety and wellbeing across Boston’s neighborhoods. The journey of Michael Cox from being beaten by fellow Boston Police officers to his appointment as Commissioner of the Boston Police Department is emblematic of criminal legal reform. I’m grateful to have such a strong partner in building a safer, more equitable Boston.” Cox will return to Boston as the police commissioner beginning on August 15, Wu said.