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Cop once beaten by Boston police becomes police commissioner

by Kesean Cleveland
Cop once beaten by Boston police becomes police commissioner
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Michael Cox, who has been a police officer for more than 30 years, will become the police commissioner of the Boston Police Department.

Cox was once beaten by his Boston Police Department colleagues over 25 years ago. Cox, at the time, was a member of the anti-gang violence unit and was pursuing a murder suspect. Cox and his partner were working undercover in plainclothes in January 1995 when they got a radio call about a shooting in Roxbury.

In the process of chasing the shooting suspect, fellow officers mistook him for a suspect and severely beat him. After realizing their mistake, the officers left Cox bloody and beaten on the ground, until members of his own unit arrived and called for EMS.

“I was a victim of some unconstitutional policing, no different than instance(s) that have happened throughout the country to Black and brown people in general but the reality is, I was a victim of that, but that’s not who I am.” Cox said during the press conference announcing him as commissioner.

In Boston, there’s a new police commissioner in town

Cox ultimately suffered head injuries and kidney damage, requiring him to take a six-month recovery leave. Cox has said that the department and the officers responsible put up plenty of resistance, and tried to cover up what happened. Late night threatening phone calls and slashed tires are just some of what Cox said his family was subjected to at the hands of the police.

“It was clear these people wanted me gone,” Cox said. “I was like, ‘This is not going to stop. Even if I leave it’s not going to stop.”

Cox later sued the department and proved the involvement of some officers. Some of those involved were fired, but others remained on the force. The assault is documented in the bestselling book, “The Fence,” by former Boston Globe reporter Dick Lehr.

“Since then, in 1995, I have dedicated my life to making sure that both the Boston police department and policing in general has grown and learned … to make sure that we have structures and mechanisms in place to make sure that we never repeat that kind of incident against anyone,” Cox told reporters.

Mayor Wu taps Michael Cox to lead city’s police

The Boston Police Department has been without a permanent leader for more than a year. The last commissioner, Dennis White, was fired after decades-old domestic violence accusations came to light. White was placed on leave over the allegations, which he denied, just two days into his new job. Gregory Long has been serving as acting police commissioner, and will stay on as superintendent-in-chief.

Mayor Michelle Wu made the announcement of the new commissioner Wednesday, July 13. Cox was selected by a committee after a six-month nationwide search. “We are so glad to be welcoming him home to Boston, a city and community he knows so well,” Wu said. “He is uniquely positioned to build the public safety infrastructure that Boston deserves.” 

Cox is a city native who served in multiple roles with the Boston Police Department before becoming the police chief in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2019. Cox is expected to start as commissioner in Boston on August 15.

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