Boston’s Police Commissioner William Gross retires, Dennis White to take his place

Skye Richmond, breaking news editor

William Gross will retire this Friday, Jan. 29, after being appointed August of 2018 as Boston’s first Black police commissioner, Mayor Walsh announced Thursday morning. 

Dennis White currently serves as a superintendent in the department and chief of staff to the commissioner. As of Friday, Jan. 29 he will take over as the 43rd police commissioner of the Boston Police Department, or BPD. White will follow Gross as the second African American to hold the position of police commissioner in the City of Boston.

White has been a public servant for 32 years. He worked for the Boston Police Reform Task Force, which was created after the killing of George Floyd and the national outcry for policy reform. 

“As police commissioner, Gross worked to ensure that BPD lived up to the ideas of community policing,” said Walsh’s office in a statement

During his time as commissioner, Gross established the Bureau of Community Engagement at BPD which strives to encourage community policing and build increased trust between citizens and law enforcement. He also conducted a departmental review of policies regarding recommended use of force strategies outlined in the 8 Can’t Wait campaign with the intent of clarifying rules.

Additionally, under his leadership, the department distributed body cameras to more than half of the police force.

Gross was also involved in a number of controversies. Soon after being appointed as commissioner in 2018, he criticized the ACLU of Massachusetts on Facebook as a “band of paper warriors” more focused on filing lawsuits than supporting the police’s efforts in fighting crime.

He also faced widespread criticism in June 2020 after meeting with Attorney General William Barr. After a photo of the two men shaking hands and smiling was released by Barr’s office, Gross claimed he did not consent to the publication of pictures. Gross did, however, defend the meeting which he said was requested by the attorney general.

The abrupt retirement comes amidst rumors that Gross is considering a mayoral run. 

The anticipated departure of Mayor Walsh comes after his recent nomination as labor secretary by President Joe Biden. Once Walsh’s nomination is confirmed by the United States Senate, City Council President Kim Janey will serve as mayor until the mayoral election in November. 

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as police commissioner, leading a department of hardworking men and women who serve this city day-in and day-out, and put the safety and well-being of our community first,” said Gross.