For the first time in history, the city of Boston has appointed its first black police commissioner.
The Boston Herald reports, beginning next month 33-year Boston police veteran, William Gross will replace William Evans, who is retiring on Aug. 4 to become executive director of public safety at Boston College.
During a press conference on Monday, Gross, who will oversee a 2,200-person department, expressed his excitement for his new role.
“It shows that any kid in Boston … will have the opportunity to be the mayor, the commissioner or the chief,” the 54-year-old said. “If you want to change, you need to change, that is why I became a police officer.”
Prior to his latest career milestone, Gross served stints with the department’s gang and drug control units, as an academy instructor, a sergeant, and sergeant detective. In 2014 Gross became Boston’s first black superintendent-in-chief.
In January, Gross admitted during an interview with Boston 25 News that he was optimistic about the city reversing its long-standing past with racism.
“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’ appointment follows the Boston Police Department’s 2017 push to increase its diversity efforts. According to data obtained by NBC Boston, in 2017 just one-third of the police department was either black, Latino, or another ethnicity. While an estimated two-thirds of the department was white and over 80 percent of the superior officers were white.