Michael Cox, a former Boston police officer who was beaten by colleagues who mistook him for a suspect in a fatal shooting will be Boston’s next police commissioner
— BreezyScroll (@BreezyScroll) July 13, 2022
Cox, 57, a Roxbury native, served in multiple roles with the Boston Police Department before becoming the police chief in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2019. He is expected to take over in Boston next month.
According to Cox, his appointment is an “emotional moment” for him. He committed to working to diversify the police force, which critics have long claimed does not adequately reflect the city it serves, and to ensure that officers feel encouraged to perform their duties to safeguard the community.
“I think this is a very exciting time. I think the officers need someone to support them,” Cox told reporters Wednesday. “And I’m going to their biggest cheerleader.”..
— Mayor Michelle Wu ?? (@MayorWu) July 13, 2022
New: Michael Cox, who 30 years ago was beaten by his fellow Boston Police officers while working undercover in the department’s gang unit, will return to Boston to lead the department as commissioner. https://t.co/yKPRBqjUw8
— Cynthia Needham (@CynthiaNeedham) July 13, 2022
Michael Cox, then a young member of the Boston police gang unit, was beaten unconscious in 1995 by fellow officers who mistook him for a murder suspect. For years, the department tried to cover it up, with nearly two dozen officers denying they saw the attack at all.
On Wednesday, Cox was named Boston’s next police commissioner, a triumphant return that will call on him to transform the department that wronged him decades ago.
Cox, 57, worked for the Boston police for 30 years before becoming chief of the Ann Arbor Police Department in Michigan in 2019 and arrives back at a pivotal moment for the department, which faces widespread calls for reform from community leaders, activists, and Mayor Michelle Wu herself. He will be the department’s third Black commissioner when he begins on Aug. 15, and will immediately confront the challenge of instituting reforms while maintaining the good will of a 1,600-strong force known for resisting change…
Larry Calderone, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, also celebrated Cox’s return, saying he “has a working understanding and intimate knowledge of the changes needed to better the BPD.”
Such support from law enforcement marks a striking reversal from what happened decades ago after the mistaken police attacks on Cox. Back then, the union sided with the officers who had beaten him as department officials worked to cover up the incident, and the city dragged its feet on an apology while fighting tooth and nail for a low settlement.
Stephen A. Roach, one of the Boston attorneys who represented Cox during his years of litigation against the city, the department, and the officers who beat him, said the city had made a “very, very intelligent decision” in tapping Cox.
“My feeling is if this hadn’t happened to him originally, he probably would have been a commissioner before this,” he said. During the many years of litigation, he learned that Cox was widely respected inside the department, and even by some of the people he arrested. The man Cox was chasing when he was attacked, Robert Brown, was acquitted of charges connected to the Roxbury murder and testified on Cox’s behalf during the federal civil rights trial, Roach said…
“The men and women of the Boston Police Department will step up, both civilian and sworn, to make sure that we serve the public well in this city,” [Cox] said. “[I’m] going to support you to death . . . but the reality is we are going to do some things in a different way.”