By Sean Philip Cotter
BOSTON — Mayor Martin Walsh has placed new Police Commissioner Dennis White on leave after “disturbing” decades-old allegations of domestic violence surfaced less than three full days after he was sworn in.
Walsh, in a statement Wednesday night after The Boston Globe unearthed allegations against White, first noted the abrupt departure of now-former Commissioner William Gross, saying the mayor made the decision “quickly” to pick Gross’s chief of staff White to step into the role.
“In an attempt to create a smooth transition and honor former Commissioner Gross’s desire to spend time with his family, Dennis White was asked to quickly step into the role of Police Commissioner, beginning last Friday,” Walsh said in a statement.
“These disturbing issues were not known to me or my staff, but should have been at the forefront,” Walsh added. “Upon learning of these serious allegations, I immediately acted, placing the Commissioner on administrative leave, while corporation counsel engages outside counsel to conduct a full and impartial investigation. In the interim, Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long will serve as acting Commissioner.”
The Globe reported the 22-year-old allegations of domestic abuse, the existence of which were confirmed to the Herald. Further information about the details of the allegations weren’t immediately confirmable Wednesday night.
The mayor suddenly announced the retirement of Gross, the city’s popular first Black top cop, last Thursday in an abrupt email. Gross, who had been rumored as a mayoral candidate, was to retire the next day, with then-Superintendent White stepping in as the acting commissioner, Walsh announced in the news release. Gross then said he wouldn’t be running for office and wanted to spend more time with his family after 37 years with BPD.
In an interview with the Herald the day of that announcement, White pledged to continue reforms and increase transparency.
Walsh then swore White in on Monday, entrusting him with the $250,000-a-year gig. White, the city’s second Black police commissioner, is a native of Dorchester’s Four Corners area and a veteran for 32 years on the force.
This news broke just over half a day before Walsh was due for a hearing before the U.S. Senate. The mayor is President Biden’s pick to serve as Labor secretary, and a Senate committee is scheduled to vet him at 10 a.m. Thursday.
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