A former Boston police officer who was beaten more than 25 years ago by colleagues who mistook him for a suspect in a fatal shooting will be the new leader of the city’s police department, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Wednesday.
The commissioner post is a homecoming for Michael Cox, 57, 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 take the helm in Boston next month.
Cox told reporters that his appointment is an “emotional moment” for him. He promised to work to diversify the police department — which critics have long complained doesn’t look enough like the city it serves — and make sure officers feel supported in their job to protect 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.”
Cox joined the Boston Police Department in 1989 and rose through the ranks over the years, becoming part of the command staff and running various units of the force.
Cox, who is Black, was working undercover in plainclothes in January 1995, when his fellow officers mistook him for a suspect in a fatal shooting and severely beat him. Cox was left bloody and beaten on the ground, and said the officers later tried to cover it up.
Cox said it was a “tough time,” but that he chose to stay in the department and improve things instead of walking away from a job he loved.
“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.
Boston’s last commissioner — Dennis White — was fired last year following a bitter battle to keep his job after decades-old domestic violence accusations came to light. White was placed on leave over the allegations, which he denied, just days into his new job.