Dennis White take reins at BPD as Gross retires
Gross says he will not launch campaign for mayor
Boston Police Department Chief of Staff Dennis White is next up for police commissioner after William Gross announced his retirement last Thursday. The first Black police commissioner in Boston will be followed by another Black man with a long history in the profession. White previously assumed Gross’ spot as chief of staff when Gross was appointed commissioner in 2018.
In a statement, Mayor Walsh called White a “proven leader” who is respected in the community and at the BPD.
“I want to thank Mayor Walsh for entrusting me with this incredible opportunity and the responsibility of leading our historic department,” White said in the mayor’s press release. “To the community and all the members of the Boston Police Department, I pledge to uphold our mission of community policing each and every day. Serving as Commissioner is the honor of a lifetime, and I will never take this sacred duty for granted.”
White served 32 years before becoming commissioner, spending many years in Roxbury. During that time, he worked his way up to deputy superintendent in the office of the superintendent in chief, and in 2018, chief of staff.
Last summer, when Walsh created the Police Reform Task Force, he appointed White as one of the 11 members. White participated in listening sessions and discussions and helped form the recommendations Walsh has committed to implementing, including laws giving preference to Boston Public School graduates when hiring for the BPD, creating a civilian review board and creating a public records unit.
Jamarhl Crawford, one of White’s fellow task force members, spoke to his commitment to reform.
“I’m confident that he is at least willing to have the difficult conversations, and he is willing to listen, and move on anything that has merit,” Crawford told the Banner.
He called White a true public servant and applauded both White and Sgt. Eddy Chrispin for their work on a task force meant to critique their own profession.
“These were police who were professional law enforcement officers who were trying to listen and figure out how they could be better,” he said.
Crawford said he is looking forward to a fresh set of ideas from White.
“No frills, no fluff, no lies, no personal feelings, but folks who just want to see the best done for all involved,” he said, noting that Gross was sometimes one to “paddle backwards” in the fight to address racism.
The Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers (MAMLEO) said in a statement that the group worked closely with Commissioner Gross on police reform, including workforce racial disparities and discriminatory promotional tests.
“Gross has supported many of MAMLEO’s most important initiatives that address minority policing issues,” the statement from MAMLEO’s incoming President Jeffrey Lopes said. “During his tenure, Gross promoted more officers of color than any previous administration. He will always be remembered as the peoples’ Commissioner who has worked tirelessly to make sure both the public and BPD staff feel supported.”
Gross was recently considering a run for mayor after Walsh was appointed to President Biden’s cabinet, but he later clarified that he would not be running. An article published in Dig Boston last week called into question Gross’ residence in Boston, noting the former commissioner lived in Milton prior to being promoted and has maintained two addresses. Gross rents an apartment in Hyde Park, but was registered to vote in Milton in 2019, a year after his appointment to commissioner, in violation of city policy.
District Attorney Rachael Rollins chimed in to wish Gross well and say that she looks forward to working with the new commissioner.
“We have stood shoulder to shoulder at homicides and other crime scenes, working together to restore and build on the trust and faith in law enforcement that our communities need to have,” Rollins said in a statement.