If anyone can turn this department of bad apples into cider, it’s this guy
The old boy bigots in the Boston Police Department are probably having a bad day.
Their new commissioner, Michael Cox, is not one of their allies.
A distinguished leader with a clean record who most recently served as the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Cox is a noted reformer. And he’s got quite the backstory which spurred that position. As the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund site explains:
In January 1995, Michael Cox was an up-and-coming Boston Police officer in the anti-gang violence unit. One night, while on-duty as a plain-clothes officer in pursuit of murder suspect Robert “Smut” Brown, he was mistaken for a gang member by a group of his colleagues who happened to be tailing the same suspect. Cox was preparing to scale a chain-link fence in pursuit of his suspect when he was suddenly pulled to the ground and beaten by this group of officers. The officers soon realized their mistake, and rather than calling for emergency medical services, they left Cox bleeding and helpless and kept their mouths shut.
Unlike former BPD Commissioner William Gross, who if given a swirly by his fellow cops would blow bubbles in toilet water to the tune of the National Anthem, Cox has recognized problems in the department. He even sued the bastards. More from NLEOMF below …
Due to the severity of his injuries, Cox was out of work for six months and despite many internal investigations, none of the offending officers were identified, and no one came forward to take responsibility. In his bestselling book, The Fence, former Boston Globe reporter Dick Lehr describes the Boston Police Department’s handling of the incident as “the blue wall of silence.” Cox eventually sued the department and was able to prove the involvement of a certain number of officers.
In a good start to his tenure as commish, Cox recognized that experience, which was documented in the 2010 Dick Lehr book The Fence, at a press conference held Wednesday morning to announce his new role.
“I was a victim of some unconstitutional policing,” Cox told reporters and a crowd that included elected officials and members of the search committee that chose him. He continued, “but the reality is, that’s not who I am. I took on public service because I wanted to give back to the community where I live. … I had a choice—either quit and leave, or stay. But I chose to stay, because I believe in policing in a friendly way.”
He stayed until 2019, when he went to Ann Arbor for the top cop job there.
Cox seems like the real deal. In Michigan, shitty cops in the department there even went after him. In his two years in the midwest, he endured a witch hunt that resulted in a temporary paid leave but turned up no damning evidence of wrongdoing, while at least one Ann Arbor officer whined about the anti-cop conditions under Cox to the point that they soiled their diaper and quit.
At his Wednesday presser, the new commissioner made some promising statements …
“Our visions are in line,” he said about Mayor Michelle Wu. “When we talk about things like diversity, equity, and inclusion, that’s very important for the police department. The police department needs to look like the communities we serve.”
Also, “We are going to go back to some of our community policing basics.”
And, “There’s history here. It’s hard to move forward unless you acknowledge some of that history.”
No doubt about it.
As for whether Cox can rein in officers and fellow brass who coddled a child molester in leadership, who pushed for the regressive candidate against Wu, who intentionally assault protesters, who violate rules with impunity, and who just this week we caught spending millions of dollars on secret surveillance, is another story altogether.
The city’s official announcement of Cox can be read below …
Mayor Michelle Wu announced the appointment of Roxbury native and former Dorchester resident Michael Cox as the 44th Commissioner of the Boston Police Department. Cox currently serves as the Chief of Police of the Ann Arbor Police Department in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Prior to his appointment to that position in 2019, Cox was a 30-year veteran of the Boston Police Department. He will begin serving in his new role on August 15, 2022.
“Having grown up here, having served in many roles within the Boston Police Department and roles elsewhere, Chief Cox is uniquely positioned to build the public safety infrastructure that Boston deserves,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “He will continue building on the community trust and community policing that our city has led on for decades.”
“I want to thank Mayor Wu for the opportunity to come back home and serve the citizens of Boston,” said Michael Cox, incoming Boston Police Department Commissioner. “The Boston Police Department needs to look like the communities which we serve and include every resident to hear what is important so we can serve better. I took on public service because I wanted to help the public and give back to the communities in which I lived.”
Cox’s appointment follows a six month search spearheaded by the Boston Police Commissioner Search Committee chaired by retired Justice Geraldine Hines of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The other members of the Committee are former Commissioner Ed Davis of the Boston Police Department, Executive Director Abrigal Forrester of Teen Empowerment, Senior Pastor Bishop William E. Dickerson II of Greater Love Tabernacle Church, and Professor of Law and Deputy Director of Research & Policy Jasmine Gonzales Rose of the Center of Anti-Racist Research at Boston University.
The Search Committee’s public engagement process began with two public listening sessions–one on January 20, 2022 and one on January 26, 2022–and a multilingual community survey. The Search Committee also met with community stakeholders to inform the hiring process, including representatives from Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers (MAMLEO), representatives from Latino Law Enforcement Group of Boston (LLEGO), leadership of the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society, and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, civilian staff, former and current female-identifying officers in the Police Department, youth groups in Boston, members of the Boston City Council, criminal justice and police reform experts, representatives from several immigrant-serving community organizations, members of the former Boston Police Reform Task Force, former Chiefs of Police from Boston and other major U.S. cities, and City representatives from various offices, including the Office of Returning Citizens, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement, and the Office of Black Male Advancement.
Following three months of community listening sessions, the Boston Police Commissioner Search Committee released an application and job description for the position, calling for candidates prepared to “inspire the confidence and trust of Boston’s diverse communities.” The Committee drafted the job description to be a direct reflection of the comments and ideas generated during public and stakeholder listening sessions. Following the release of the job description, the Search Committee worked with the Police Executive Research Forum to assess, vet, and narrow the pool of candidates. After a series of interviews, the Committee recommended finalists to the Mayor, who made the final selection of Michael Cox to be the Commissioner of the Boston Police Department.
“Through our public listening sessions and meetings with a wide variety of community stakeholders, elected officials, academics and representatives of the law enforcement community, we heard our charge loud and clear,” said Justice Geraldine Hines. “This City is ready for a leader of the Boston Police Department who will embrace reform and lead the Department in a way that brings a fresh vision of public safety to Boston’s culturally, racially, and economically diverse neighborhoods. I am confident that Michael Cox is the right person for the moment in our city’s history and that he will serve with the utmost integrity.”
Cox last served in BPD as the Bureau Chief and Superintendent of the Bureau of Professional Development, overseeing the Boston Police Academy, the Firearms Training Unit, the Police Cadet Unit, Recruit training and in-service training for all sworn Boston Police personnel.
He served a total of 15 years on the Command Staff in a variety of positions. Cox served as the commander of the Operations Division, primarily responsible for the Emergency 9-1-1 Response Services for the City of Boston. In addition, he was previously assigned to the head of Internal Affairs as the Assistant Bureau Chief of Professional Standards, Zone Commander of Area E, and the Commander of the Forensic Division and Assistant Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Investigative Services.
Before his Command Staff assignments at the Boston Police Department, Cox worked as a Sergeant Detective in the Intelligence Unit where he performed Dignitary Protection duties, served as the liaison to the U.S. Secret Service, and as a supervisor assigned to the Joint Terrorist Task Force. At this rank, he also served assignments in the Internal Affairs, Recruit Investigations, and Audit & Review Units. As a Police Officer, Cox worked in Area B-3 until joining the City-wide Anti-Gang Violence Unit. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1995. Cox is a two-time Medal of Honor recipient and received numerous other Commendations and awards while serving in the Boston Police Department.
Cox is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Police Executive Research Forum and holds degrees from Providence College in Business Management, Curry College where he obtained a Master’s in Criminal Justice, and Boston University’s Questrom School of Business where he obtained an MBA.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.