New Boston police commissioner placed on leave after past domestic assault allegations surface


Dana Murtada

Boston City Hall

Ethan Wayne, breaking news editor

Dennis White, who was sworn in as Boston police commissioner after the sudden retirement of William Gross, has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation into domestic assault allegations from 1999. 

White was appointed as acting police commissioner Jan. 29 before being officially sworn in Feb. 1. His placement on leave Feb. 3 marks White’s term as the shortest in Boston city history of any police commissioner at only two days. 

According to the Boston Globe, a restraining order that was issued in 1999 forced White out of his home and away from his wife and children. No evidence was found that White was charged with a crime. 

At the time of the order, White’s wife, whose identity is unknown for privacy reasons, said she was, “afraid that he may come inside and kill me because he is angry.” White’s attorney denied the claims of physical abuse during their divorce proceedings one year later. 

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh appointed Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long to serve as acting commissioner while the city prepares an investigation into the domestic violence claims. Walsh indicated his expectation for a “full and impartial investigation” into the allegations. 

The controversy comes just as Walsh arrives in D.C. for his nomination hearing as President Joe Biden’s labor secretary. Walsh was quick to squash any rumors that he failed to act on this information.

“These disturbing issues were not known to me or my staff, but should have been at the forefront,” said Walsh. “Upon learning of these serious allegations, I immediately acted.”

City Council President Kim Janey also expressed her concern for the allegations before the suspension was announced. 

“I have had the opportunity to work with Commissioner White while on the Council, but this is the first I am hearing of this issue, and I am deeply concerned,” Janey said. “The public deserves transparency.”

Janey will become acting mayor after Walsh’s departure. 

According to Boston Police Department Rule 327A, arrest is the “preferred response” in regard to domestic violence situations involving departmental employees. At this time there is no indication of whether or not White will face official charges.