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Michael Cox named new Boston Police commissioner: 'We're going to do some things in a different way'

Michael Cox named new Boston Police commissioner
Michael Cox named new Boston Police commissioner 02:49

BOSTON – The city of Boston has finally found a new police commissioner. The department has been without a permanent leader for more than a year, but Roxbury native and 30-year force veteran Michael Cox will take over starting August 15. 

Mayor Michelle Wu made the announcement Wednesday, saying this appointment comes at a "very consequential moment." A committee recommended finalists after a months-long nationwide search, and Wu made the final decision.

"We are so glad to be welcoming him home to Boston, a city and community he knows so well," Wu said. "He is uniquely positioned to build the public safety infrastructure that Boston deserves." 

Cox is a former Boston police officer and leader in the department who was once mistakenly beaten by fellow officers while chasing a suspect, and is the current police chief in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"I do consider this a homecoming," Cox said during the introduction at Howes Playground in Roxbury.

In his remarks he emphasized the importance of community policing, "so we make sure that we never over-police."

"We are going to give back in so many different ways. We're going to be present in every community," Cox said. "We need to understand the people that we police, and the communities we police, so that we never have any unintended consequences."

Cox talked about making sure officers and their wellness are supported, and said that under his leadership, "we're going to do some things in a different way." 

"We're going to get feedback from our community to hear and own when we've done wrong," Cox said. "There's some history here. It's hard to move forward unless you acknowledge some of that history." 

In 2020, Cox talked exclusively to the WBZ-TV about being mistaken for a suspect and beaten 25 years ago in Boston.

In January 1995, Cox and his partner were working undercover in the gang unit when they got a radio call about a shooting in Roxbury. In the process of chasing the shooting suspect, Cox was severely beaten by fellow officers and was left on the ground until members of his own unit arrived and called for EMS.

Cox, who suffered head injuries and kidney damage, said the department put up plenty of resistance, and tried to cover up what happened. Late night threatening phone calls and slashed tires are just some of what Cox said his family was subjected to at the hands of the police.

Michael Cox during his time at the Boston Police Department. CBS Boston

"It was clear these people wanted me gone," Cox said. "I was like, 'This is not going to stop. Even if I leave it's not going to stop."

Cox refused to leave. And over the course of 30 years, he rose to the highest uniform rank in the Boston Police Department before taking the Michigan job in 2019.   

At Wednesday's news conference, Cox addressed the beating incident.

"Clearly, I was a victim of some unconstitutional policing, no different than probably incidents that have happened throughout the country to Black and brown people in general," he said. "But the reality is I was a victim of that, but that's not who I am." 

Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said, "He has a superior intellect, came from the neighborhoods and knows everyone.  He's a great guy."

"Mayor Wu gets an A-plus," said community activist Rev. Eugene Rivers. "He has an institutional memory which is a function of lived experience which qualifies him more than anyone else in this town."

The city's last commissioner, Dennis White, was fired more than a year ago by then-acting Mayor Kim Janey, four months after he was sworn in by former Mayor Marty Walsh.

White served only two days as commissioner before he was placed on leave when allegations of domestic violence made by his ex-wife resurfaced. The allegations dated back to the 1990s.

In a lawsuit filed against the city and Janey, White argued he was discriminated against.

On Tuesday, a federal judge dismissed 11 claims and allowed three to move forward regarding due process, defamation, and right to privacy.

White denies he engaged in domestic violence at anytime against anyone, his attorney said.

Gregory Long has been serving as acting police commissioner, and will stay on as superintendent-in-chief.

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