Boston Mayor Martin I. Walsh has appointed William Gross police commissioner, making him the first African American to hold the post in the Boston Police Department’s 176-year history.
Gross, a 33-year veteran, will succeed Commissioner William B. Evans, who is scheduled to retire August 4, according to an announcement made Monday. Gross will serve as interim commissioner until he is formally sworn in. A swearing-in date has not yet been scheduled.
Gross joins a number of black police commissioners who are currently serving in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon and elsewhere.
Although their appointments are symbolic, it’s often unclear what effect they do and will have influencing departments that have long racist histories in their treatment of blacks. including shooting to death unarmed black men, with police claiming they feared for their lives.
Boston also has an extremely low arrest rate when it comes to solving murders of blacks, according to several reports.
Chicago, for example, employed detectives who tortured black men into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit. The men spent decades behind bars for crimes before being released.
Gross, who is superintendent in chief of the Boston Police Department, said, “I want to thank Mayor Walsh for his support and for this opportunity, and Commissioner Evans for his leadership and friendship, and the community without which I would not be here today.”
The Boston Police Department was founded in 1842 and it has 2,015 sworn officers.