Surrounded by his family, Michael Cox was sworn in as the Boston Police Department’s (BPD) 44th commissioner on August 15 on City Hall Plaza.
On July 13, Mayor Michelle Wu announced that Cox, a Boston native, was selected to be the next BPD commissioner. Cox had served for 30 years on the BPD before becoming the Chief of Police in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Retired BPD Superintendent Lisa Holmes hosted the swearing-in ceremony, and an invocation was provided by Pastor Arthur T. Gerald, Jr. The benediction was provided by Father John Connolly.
Wu began her remarks by talking about her first conversation with Cox, which she said she does not recall. It was during her first City Council campaign on a softball field in West Roxbury, where Cox was “just a dad watching his kid’s softball game,” Wu said.
“The first real conversation that we had, that I remember, was during the interview for this job, and immediately, I had a feeling settle in my chest that we might have done the impossible.”
Wu said that she had been told it was “impossible” to find a commissioner that had everything the community and the selection committee was looking for.
“But at the end of the day, Michael Cox is used to proving that more is possible,” she said.
She continued, “I am proud that today, a boy from Roxbury is going to serve as the commissioner of the Boston Police Department; first and finest in the country.”
Wu said that during her nine months in office, she has “already seen the incredible range of what our BPD officers are called to do day in and day out,” and that the goal is to ensure all Boston communities are included.
During his remarks, Cox praised Wu and her leadership, as well as her “commitment” to the city’s residents. He also thanked former police commissioners and his family.
“To come home and be able to lead in this department in this city, to come to a place where I grew up, where I was raised, where I was an officer, where I raised my family; this is an incredible opportunity,” he said. “And with all great opportunities comes great responsibility, and I look forward to making sure I live up to that responsibility.”
He continued, “Those in law enforcement enter policing to serve the community, but we have to reimagine how we do that in the world we’re living in today. We have to actively engage with the community, because in order for us to be successful, that’s the path to get there.”
When Cox was announced as the new commissioner last month, he spoke of community inclusion and getting feedback from the community in his remarks. He said he feels it’s important to listen to the residents of Boston and what they need from the police department.
On Monday, he reiterated that sentiment and said that the department aims to support its officers and other members of the department by providing the tools they require “to be successful and safe.”
Additionally, he said that the BPD will “hold each member of the department accountable for what we ask them to do. Most importantly, we will support them as they meet the community where they are.”
Cox said that during the selection process when the city held community listening sessions, the majority of feedback indicated that residents want “transparency, accountability, procedural justice, [and] equity and inclusion.”
He said, “in our path forward, these will be the heart of everything that we’re going to try to do with the police department.”
As one of the oldest cities in the country, Cox said that Boston’s police department “has, from time to time, failed…” but has gotten back up and looked for ways to move ahead.
“We are in a different time right now, and I’mm quite confident that we will meet the challenge ahead of us,” Cox said.
In July, Cox said that he was a “victim of unconstitutional policing” in 1995, but still remained a member of the police force because he wanted to make a difference.
The Associated Press reported that in 1995, Cox was working undercover as a plainclothes officer in the BPD’s gang unit. Cox was about to grab a shooting suspect, the article reports, when he was “struck from behind.” The article continues, “he was kicked and punched by fellow officers, suffering head injuries and kidney damage.”
The article also said that an injury report states that Cox slipped on ice, “causing him to fall and crack his head.”
Cox said, “I worked to change policing since that incident occurred, and I will continue to do all I can do to make sure that no Black or Brown person, or any individual, no matter what their gender identity or race, is a victim of any kind of unconstitutional policing.”
He praised the work of BPD officers and said that “this is a day full of hope. We’re going to try to reimagine the police. We’re going to be better, we’re going to be stronger, we’re going to build off the strengths of every individual that works there, both sworn and civilian.”
Cox was optimistic in his remarks and expressed his belief in the department and in the City of Boston.
“As we move forward, we promise that we’re going to try to be truly equitable and inclusive,” he said. “We’ll work to ensure that the department looks like the communities we serve, so we can always police in a community-friendly way.”