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Boston Police Commissioner Gross: Officers 'Wear Too Many Hats,' Duties Should Be Shared

BOSTON (CBS) -- Boston's top cop supports "sharing responsibilities" as Mayor Marty Walsh calls for moving 20% of the police department's overtime budget to community programs. Police Commissioner William Gross said his department is asking that "more people come up and help solve problems."

"Quite frankly, what I've heard in the community is we wear too many hats anyway. A child doesn't want to go to school? You call the Boston Police. A child's on the bus being unruly? You call the Boston Police. There's an emotionally disturbed person in a home? You call the Boston Police," Gross said at Friday's news conference. "How many hats do you want us to wear? So, I think that responsibility should be spread out."

Gross said officers will still protect the city "no matter what." But he said a police officer shouldn't be responding to every problem.

"We shouldn't have to respond to each and every call when it doesn't require your uniform, it requires mental healthcare and other people coming to the plate," he said. "So that would cut overtime right there, sharing responsibilities."

The changes proposed by Walsh come in the wake of massive protests in Boston and around the country over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Boston Riots
Protesters confront police during clashes after a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis Police custody, in Boston on May 31, 2020. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

"It is the duty and responsibility of each and every one of our citizens to make sure that that cowardly murder will not happen here in Boston," Gross said.

Gross also recalled when then-President Barack Obama praised Boston in ordering a review of policing nationwide because of the shooting of unarmed black and brown men. But he said "there's always room for improvement."

"We do want different eyes on our policies, our procedures, and we do want to move forward, because we have one of the top community policing models, and that means working in partnership with the community to solve problems, and create a better quality of life for all," he said. "The people that we serve should have the expectation that this department will improve each and every year and I think we're taking those steps."


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