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William Gross, Boston’s 1st Black police boss, to retire

January 29, 2021 GMT
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FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2018 file photo, William Gross smiles after being sworn in as Boston's first black police commissioner during ceremonies in Boston. Gross plans to retire on Friday Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
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FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2018 file photo, William Gross smiles after being sworn in as Boston's first black police commissioner during ceremonies in Boston. Gross plans to retire on Friday Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

BOSTON (AP) — Boston Police Commissioner William Gross, who became the city’s first Black top cop in 2018, is retiring, officials said Thursday.

Gross, a 37-year veteran of the police force, will be replaced when he departs on Friday by Dennis White, who is currently the commissioner’s chief of staff, Mayor Marty Walsh said.

Gross’ abrupt announcement came shortly after he told reporters he is giving “deep consideration” to a mayoral run. President Joe Biden has nominated Walsh as labor secretary, setting up a race for the empty mayoral seat. But Gross said on WBZ radio Thursday that he doesn’t plan to seek office and had decided long ago that he would leave his post when Walsh is no longer mayor.

Gross has long been one of the public faces of the department and is well-known in the community.

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He moved to Boston from a farm community in Maryland in the 1970s at age 12 as the forced busing of students to desegregate schools sparked violent unrest and trained the nation’s eyes on the city. He joined the force in 1985 and worked his way up from patrol officer to the department’s first black superintendent-in-chief in 2014.

“Anyone who knows Willie can instantly feel his love for the job and his passion for keeping communities safe. No matter the situation, his warm smile, dedication, and love for meeting people made him uniquely capable of taking on the toughest challenges,” Walsh said in a emailed statement.

Gross said it has been an “honor and a privilege” to be commissioner and praised his officers for “their performance under tremendous pressure.” Gross said he will “will continue to be one of their biggest champions” as he moves forward with his “next chapter.”

“They have shown time and again their unwavering commitment to our residents, rising to the occasion during moments of crisis, reaching out a helping hand to those in need, and running towards danger in the name of public safety for all,” Gross said.

Before becoming Gross’ chief of staff, White was a deputy superintendent in the Office of the Superintendent-in-Chief and in the Bureau of Field Services Night Command, officials said.

Walsh said he is confident that White will continue to advance the progress Gross has made “while drawing on his own extensive career experience to bring fresh ideas and innovative thinking to the department.”