William Gross just became Boston’s first black police commissioner.
Gross, a 33-year Boston police veteran who had been superintendent-in-chief, was introduced as the new commissioner during a news conference on Monday, the Boston Globe reported. He will replace William Evans, who retires next month after 38 years on the force, including four as commissioner.
Gross, 54, who joined the police force in 1985, will take over a 2,200-person department, according to the Globe.
“I don’t think you’ll have a better community guy out there,” Evans said of Gross on Monday.
Mayor Martin Walsh called Gross a “proven leader who is trusted and respected in the community,” according to MassLive.com.
Evans’ “love for the city and its residents is matched only by his pride in the department he’s served for almost 40 years,” Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said during Monday’s press conference. “Superintendent Gross has shown that very same devotion to the city’s residents and has decades of his own experience to guide him.”
Gross became Boston’s first black superintendent-in-chief ― the police department’s second-in-command ― in 2014. During an interview with Boston 25 News in January, Gross reflected on his promotion.
“I didn’t even know if Boston was ready for an African-American chief, but I knew Boston was moving in the directions that would distance it from its horrid past of racism and exclusion,” he said. “When I first came on in ’83 as a cadet, sometimes you’d hear the N-word and sometimes you’d hear Caucasians spoken about in a certain way.”
Gross became the police department’s face at the city’s Free Speech rally last year, and was credited for defusing tensions and keeping the controversial event peaceful. Last month, he received the Robert F. Kennedy Embracing the Legacy Award.