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Boston’s next police commissioner says top priority is continuing reforms

The 32-year veteran of the force says he wants to build on community engagement

By Sean Philip Cotter
Boston Herald

BOSTON — Boston’s next top cop is another longtime city police officer who says his goal is to continue the police reforms that began under his predecessor.

Superintendent Dennis White, who will become the Boston Police Department’s acting commissioner when Commissioner William Gross retires Friday, will be sworn into the position in a permanent capacity in the coming days.

“We’re going to continue on with the things we’ve done under Commissioner Gross,” said White, who will be the second Black police commissioner in a row after a long succession of white ones.

White, a native of the Four Corners neighborhood, has been on the police force for 32 years. He’s been Gross’ chief of staff, and he served on Mayor Martin Walsh’s police reform task force and internal boards that analyzed department policy in the wake of protests last summer over police treatment of people of color.

“This isn’t us against them — that’s more what I’m looking to build,” White told the Herald on Thursday, saying he wants to continue to boost the department’s community engagement division.

He also spoke in favor of the upcoming city Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, an independent oversight entity that was a recommendation of the task force he sat on, and talked up the need to continue to diversify the department and make police information more accessible.

“We’re going to be try to be more transparent with the public,” he said.

Walsh, in an abrupt statement Thursday morning announcing Gross’s retirement, said, “I’m confident that Dennis will continue to advance the progress made by Commissioner Gross, including implementing community-led recommendations for police reform, while drawing on his own extensive career experience to bring fresh ideas and innovative thinking to the department.”

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