by Rick Winterson

It had been announced to the media over last weekend, culminating in a Press Conference in City Hall’s Eagle Room on Monday morning. The current Commissioner of the Boston Police Department (the BPD) William B. Evans is retiring. He will shortly assume responsibility for the Public Safety Department at Boston College, which includes B.C.’s Campus Police.

At the Monday morning Press Conference, Mayor Walsh also announced Evan’s replacement as Commissioner of the BPD: the current BPD Superintendent-in- Chief William Gross. Gross, who had been second in command of the BPD, now assumes the title of Interim Commissioner until Saturday, August 4, the day Evans actually retires. He will be formally sworn in soon afterward.

Evans’ retirement from the Force was an emotional event. In his remarks, Evans, who is 59, expressed his profound gratitude for his 40-year career with the BPD, referring brief ly to his progression up through its ranks. Similarly, Mayor Walsh rendered his profound thanks for all that Evans had accomplished during his five-year tenure as BPD Commissioner. Evans wove a continual thread through his remarks during the Press Conference – his desire to spend more of his time and energies with his family (who were all present). He also mentioned his interest in public safety on college campuses – a field he had studied and lectured upon for some time.

It’s difficult to compress a lifetime of achievement into a single article. But there were unmistakable high points in Evans’ career with the BPD. Perhaps he will be best remembered for his handling of the Marathon bombing tragedy, the overall reduction of violent crime in our City, and his personal presence at any hour or day, whenever public safety threats suddenly arose. He also enjoyed remarkable success in fostering community policing – an aim he unceasingly supported.

Evans is a born-and-brought-up South Boston resident. Just before Evens’ retirement announcement, South Boston’s City Councilor Ed Flynn spoke to South Boston Online. Flynn said, “Commissioner Evans provided exceptional leadership of the Police Department while he was its Commissioner. He was in the forefront of community policing that involved all residents of the City of Boston. Bill brought hope to all the people of Boston; I am proud to call him a friend.” Frequent spontaneous applause for Evans from those attending Monday’s Press Conference confirmed Flynn’s statement.

Interim Commissioner William Gross, nicknamed “Willie” by his family and friends, took the podium toward the end of the Press Conference. For your information, the new Commissioner’s name of “Gross” is pronounced so that it rhymes with words like “toss” and “cross”. He is a 33-year veteran of the BPD. He began, like most other Officers do, as a Patrol Officer, which eventually included several years in the Gang Unit and the Drug Control Unit. He rose through the ranks based upon his record of accomplishment, and joined the BPD Command Staff as Deputy Superintendent ten years ago, in 2008. Not so incidentally, Commissioner Gross is an African American, who has established very strong community ties. He singled out his mother (who was present) as being the key influence in his life. By all who know him, Commissioner Gross is described as “the right person at the right time”.

Monday’s Press Conference concluded with a Question-and- Answer session, in which Walsh, Evans, and Gross took part.