Michael Cox, a 30-year veteran of the Boston Police Department who rose through the ranks before taking a job leading a department in Ann Arbor, Michigan three years ago, has been chosen by Mayor Michelle Wu to become the next city police commissioner.
Cox, 57, was chosen by Wu following a six-month search process that yielded four finalists vying to succeed former commissioner Dennis White, who was fired by acting mayor Kim Janey last year after an investigation into decades-old domestic violence allegations against him.
Wu, in a Zoom call with reporters ahead of his official announcement on Wednesday morning, said Cox leads with a “sense of possibility, a deep faith in what we can achieve together, and a deep love for the city in which he grown up and will be back home.
“As soon as we started chatting, I knew it was him and our priorities and values were aligned,” Wu said. “That love for Boston comes through in the discussion of every challenge, and there was such a sense of hope, excitement and joy about what we could accomplish together, even (when) we were tackling very complex and ingrained systems.”
Cox, a Roxbury native and longtime resident of Dorchester, called the transition back to basics for him and emphasized making sure officers have department support and reinforce the trust of the community, especially during a difficult time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They need to be educated, they need to be developed around all the things that we need to do to make sure we’re on the cutting edge to meet the needs of the public,” Cox said.
Cox joined the department in 1989 and rose through the ranks to serve about 15 years on the department’s staff before leaving in 2019.
His most recent position in Boston was superintendent of the Office of Professional Development, but as he noted Wednesday, his experience in the department is varied.
At times in his career, he managed internal affairs, the 911 call center and the police academy, and served as deputy superintendent of investigative services.
But Cox, as he said on Wednesday, is perhaps best known to the public when, in 1995, he was beaten by fellow officers while on duty as an undercover officer.
Cox, at the time, was a member of the Anti-Gang Violence Unit pursuing a murder suspect when he himself was mistaken for a gang member by a group of fellow officers.
Cox was knocked to the ground and beaten by his colleagues. Although the attacking officers quickly realized their mistake, they left Cox there and kept quiet about the episode.
Cox eventually suffered injuries that forced him to take a six-month recuperation leave. The assault was documented in the bestselling book, ‘The Fence’, by former boston globe journalist Dick Lehr.
Cox then sued the department and proved the involvement of certain officers. Some of those involved were fired, but others remained on the force.
Cox told reporters on Wednesday that the incident compelled him to make sure the department and the policing profession grow and learn from his experience — that there is a structure in place to ensure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.
“It was a personal struggle for me because it was a tough time,” Cox said. “But the reality is that I love public service. You know, I took the job to do public service.
In Ann Arbor, Cox was temporarily placed on administrative leave in February 2020, just over four months after being sworn in, after allegations he created a hostile work environment amid investigations into officers improperly canceling appointments. parking tickets were taking place, according to MLIVE.
A lieutenant and other officials alleged that Cox tried to move an investigation toward a conclusion where the supervisor at the center of the investigation would not be disciplined, the outlet reported.
However, an investigation into the allegations against Cox found there was no evidence that Cox had behaved in this manner. But the review found there was evidence that “people feared retaliation from the leader, and they had a legitimate basis for that fear, whether or not that was the leader’s intention,” wrote an outside investigative firm in a report.
Cox was reinstated about a month after being furloughed, on the condition that he meet with union leaders and representatives to apologize for any misunderstandings, among other provisions, MLIVE reported.
Asked about the allegations on Wednesday, Cox again apologized for any misunderstandings. He also suggested that cultural differences between the Boston and Ann Arbor counties, as well as regional differences between New England and the Midwest, contributed to the incident.
“Anyone who knows me… (knows) that I’ve always been pretty thoughtful,” he said. “I don’t really raise my voice. I don’t really swear. I don’t do things in that nature.
“What I didn’t really understand was that just the fact that I was coming from a large police department to a small police department, that in itself was daunting – that my experiences that I brought with me (are), in and of themselves, sometimes intimidating to other officers who haven’t had that,” he continued.
Cox said it was misinterpreted.
“I really didn’t understand that people even perceived it that way, and so, I apologize, as well as I should, because that was certainly never the intention,” he said. declared.
The nomination of former Commissioner White by former Mayor Marty Walsh has raised questions about how the best cop in town was selected for the job. Walsh denied knowing about the past allegations when he cast White.
White is currently suing the city over the city’s decision to fire him. On Tuesday, however, a federal judge dismissed 11 of the 14 claims in the lawsuit.
Wu on Wednesday said the city went through a “very, very thorough vetting process” when selecting Cox.
“I’ve read just about every document that’s ever been available on (Cox) in Boston,” Wu said, adding that staff members spoke with “many, many people” in Ann Arbor.
“These conversations for me confirmed what I already knew about Chief Cox from his years in Boston…that he takes every step of leadership very seriously and in this case he took full responsibility for any miscommunication and the used as a learning opportunity with those around him. too,” Wu said. “And so we are extremely excited to bring a leader of his experience, wisdom and background to Boston in this role.”
This breaking news will be updated.
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