Officer, once beaten by co-workers, to lead Boston police

By ALANNA DURKIN RICHER, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — A former Boston police officer who was beaten more than 25 years ago by colleagues who mistook him for a shooting suspect will be the new chief of the city’s police department, announced Wednesday Mayor Michelle Wu.

Michael Cox, 57, will return to his hometown of Boston after working as a police chief in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to lead the same force he once sued for being beaten by d other cops. Cox, who is black, will take over as commissioner next month.

Cox described his nomination as an “emotional moment” for him, apologizing during a call with reporters for his shaky voice. He has promised to work to diversify the police department – which critics have long complained is not close enough to the city it serves – and to make sure officers feel supported in their work to protect the community.

“I think it’s a very exciting time. I think the officers need someone to support them,” Cox told reporters Wednesday. “And I’m going to see their biggest cheerleader ever.”

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Before becoming chief in Ann Arbor in 2019, Cox was with the Boston police force for 30 years, where he rose through the ranks after years of fighting to get justice for his beatings that left him seriously injured in his life. the age of 29.

Cox was working undercover in plain clothes as part of the gang unit in January 1995 when officers received a call about a shooting. Cox, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, spotted the suspect and began to chase him. The suspect began climbing a fence and Cox was struck from behind just as he was about to grab the man, Cox said. He was kicked and punched by fellow officers, suffering head injuries and kidney damage.

“What happened to me was humiliating,” Cox told former Boston Globe reporter Dick Lehr for Lehr’s book on beatings: “The Fence: A Police Cover-Up Along Boston’s Racial Divide.”

“There’s no reason to treat someone like that. And then to leave them. What if they did it to me – another police officer – would they do it to another person if they got away with it?” Cox said.

Cox described being harassed in an effort to silence him after the beatings became public despite his colleagues’ efforts to cover it up. A department injury report said Cox lost his footing in a frozen puddle, causing him to fall and break his head.

Cox chose to stay on the force after what happened to him and try to make things better instead of quitting a job he loved, he said Wednesday.

“Since then, in 1995, I have dedicated my life to ensuring that the Boston Police Department and police departments in general have grown and learned … to ensure that we have structures and mechanisms in place to make sure we never repeat that. kind of incident against anybody,” Cox told reporters.

The leading attorney for Boston and surrounding communities, who has known Cox for years, called him “a man of great honor and integrity.”

“Michael Cox’s journey from being beaten by fellow Boston police officers to being appointed commissioner of the Boston Police Department is emblematic of criminal law reform,” said the Suffolk County Attorney Kevin Hayden in an emailed statement.

Cox’s tenure at Ann Arbor was marred by claims he created a hostile work environment, which led to him being briefly placed on administrative leave in 2020.

An investigation found ‘no evidence that the boss behaved in a way that created a hostile work environment’. But a report says “there is evidence that people feared retaliation from the leader, and that they had a legitimate basis for that fear, whether or not that was the leader’s intention.”

He was reinstated less than a month after being furloughed after being asked by the city administration to apologize “for any misunderstanding and miscommunication”.

The mayor said the vetting process was intense and that she personally spoke with the mayor and city administrator of Ann Arbor about Cox’s time there. These conversations confirmed that he is a “leader of high integrity”, Wu said.

“We are extremely excited to bring a leader of his experience, wisdom and background to Boston in this role,” she told reporters.

In Boston, Cox spent 15 years in various roles on the police force command staff, including as bureau chief and superintendent of the Office of Professional Development. He oversaw the Boston Police Academy, the Firearms Training Unit, the Police Cadet Unit, and the training of recruits and sworn officers.

Boston’s newest commissioner – Dennis White – was fired last year following an uphill battle to keep his job after decades-old domestic violence charges came to light.

White was furloughed over the allegations, which he denied, just days into his new job. Chief Superintendent Gregory Long served as acting police commissioner during the search for White’s permanent successor.

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