For police commissioner search, Wu looks to former justice and ex-chief Ed Davis

Geraldine Hines. Photo courtesy Mayor's Office

Geraldine Hines, a former Supreme Judicial Court justice, and Ed Davis, who served as the late Mayor Thomas Menino’s police chief, have signed on to a panel tasked with helping Mayor Michelle Wu choose her police commissioner.

The panel is charged with finding the “best candidates no matter where they currently may be working right now,” Wu said during a City Hall press conference.

Recommendations from the panel expected in “coming months,” according to the Wu administration.

Acting Commissioner Gregory Long, who has served for nearly a year on an interim basis, will advise the panel and will not be a candidate for the permanent post. Wu on Thursday called him a “close and trusted adviser” in setting up the search process and running the department.

The next police commissioner will step into a department riven by controversy and in need of reforms. Marty Walsh, the mayor before he left for the Biden administration in March, tapped Dennis White for the job. White was put on leave by Walsh and then later fired by Acting Mayor Kim Janey after the Boston Globe reported on decades-old accusations of domestic violence.

Separately, more than a dozen police officers have been charged by federal prosecutors in connection with overtime fraud, and nine have pleaded guilty. Additionally, a former police union official has been accused of child molestation, and the city has paid out millions of dollars in legal settlements over police wrongdoing.

Even amid the upheaval, Boston has avoided some of the rising crime rates seen in other major cities. For five years violent crime and property crime have declined. Violent crime in 2021 was down 15 percent from the year before, and homicides fell to 40 in 2021 from 56 in 2020.

Davis, a former Lowell cop who led the Boston Police between 2006 and 2013, said Thursday transparency and reforms of the department are “necessary.”

Hines, who retired from the state’s highest court in 2017, is chairing the search committee.

Its other members include Bishop William E. Dickerson II of Dorchester’s Greater Love Tabernacle Church; Abrigal Forrester, a Caribbean American who grew up in Codman Square and serves as executive director of the youth organization Teen Empowerment, and Jasmine Gonzales Rose, law professor at Boston University.

The committee is set to gather community input before plunging into its search. Public listening sessions are set for Thursday, Jan. 20 at 6 p.m., and Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 12 p.m. Meetings with community and law enforcement groups are also expected.

“As we continue to reckon with the impact of systemic racism on policing and violence, this is an opportunity for Boston to reimagine the role of the police as part of our broader infrastructure for public safety and public health,” Gonzales Rose said in a statement.