Command move at BPD draws fire from Campbell, local lawmakers

Veteran BPD officer Eddy Chrispin. Seth Daniel photo

Backlash is mounting this week following the abrupt demotion from the Boston Police Department’s command staff of a veteran officer who had recently been appointed to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission that is aimed at improving police training and conduct across the state.

Eddy Chrispin, well known in Dorchester and Mattapan for his high-profile positions in the city’s police ranks over a 25-year-career, was stripped of his deputy superintendent rank on July 5 by BPD Commissioner Michael Cox, who reassigned the 55 year old as a sergeant detective and assistant bureau chief for the department’s Bureau of Professional Development.

The decision has prompted criticism from across the political spectrum within City Hall and the State House, although Mayor Wu – so far – has backed Cox’s decision.

“The mayor fully supports the commissioner’s judgment on how best to build his command staff as the most effective senior leadership team for the department and the city,” a spokesperson for Wu said on Tuesday. “We’re grateful to have Sgt. Det. Chrispin’s leadership” on the POST Commission.

For its part, Cox’s office suggested that “conflicts of interest” stemming from Chrispin’s appointment to the panel by Attorney General Andrea Campbell would disqualify him from serving on Cox’s staff.

But Campbell, the state’s top law enforcement official, rebutted that suggestion in a statement, saying, “Deputy Superintendent Chrispin has served Boston’s communities for 25 years, where he has advocated for better community policing and greater opportunity for officers of color and women. After a thorough vetting process, I was proud to appoint Chrispin to the POST Commission, an appointment that was entirely consistent with the state conflict of interest law.”

Her sentiment was shared by City Council President Ruthzee Louijeune, who has worked closely with Chrispin in the Haitian American community. Like her council colleague, Ed Flynn of South Boston, Louijeune said she was “disappointed” by Chrispin’s removal from the BPD’s command staff.

“I have advocated for his reinstatement, especially since the original reason given for his removal – a conflict of interest – does not exist,” she said. “Over the past week, I have heard from community members and police officers of all ranks and backgrounds who are also disappointed because of Eddy’s years of demonstrated strong leadership and moral compass…Few officers are as present in community and as committed to improving policing as Eddy Chrispin.”

Two influential Boston lawmakers also slammed the demotion and transfer.

Said state Rep. Chris Worrell of Dorchester: “Eddy Chrispin is a respected leader in the Boston Police Department and in the broader community. Eddy deserves an apology and an immediate return to his prior position as deputy superintendent. Anything short of that is unacceptable.”

State Rep. Russell Holmes of Mattapan agreed with his fellow legislator. “Quite frankly, this is the wrong decision,” he told The Reporter. “If there’s a different reason why you left Eddy off the command staff, then that can be discussed...In the end, though, it can’t be that it’s a conflict of interest.”

City Councillor Brian Worrell called Chrispin “an accomplished officer” and said Cox’s move sends a “concerning message to officers and especially to officers of color.”

“ If we are demoting individuals who advocate for police accountability and transparency, then who are we promoting?” Worrell asked.

Through a spokesperson, Commissioner Cox said: “The Commissioner expresses his sincere thanks to Sergeant Detective Chrispin for his service on the command staff, having been appointed by a previous Commissioner. Commissioner Cox has every confidence in Sgt. Detective Chrispin’s ability to serve as an appointed member of the POST Commission, as he continues to serve the Boston Police Department as a supervisor in our Civil Right Unit.”

Campbell appointed Chrispin through a process defined by state law that includes reviewing a list of qualified nominees from several sources, including the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers (MAMLEO), vetting them, and making the appointment. She said the law is explicit in that appointees can be any officer up to and including a chief or commissioner. Her office noted that Framingham Police Chief Lester Baker serves on the commission, as does Boston Police Union President Larry Calderone.

On Monday, POST Director Enrique Zuniga – the former Massachusetts gaming commissioner – was the first official to criticize the move by Cox. “We urge BPD to reverse its decision and immediately reinstate Commissioner Chrispin to his prior rank,” wrote Zuniga in a statement.

“This unwarranted decision by the BPD sets an unfortunate precedent and undermines the decisions of the appointing and nominating authorities while also undermining POST’s work toward police reform.”

Zuniga said he was informed that the decision was made by BPD leadership due to questions about conflicts of interest that might arise, but he said this shouldn’t be a concern.

“The POST Commission has procedures to deal with conflicts of interest that may arise. Commissioners routinely disclose or recuse themselves from a particular matter,” he noted.

Holmes, who helped create the POST Commission as part of a larger policing reform package in 2020, agreed.

“I told the mayor and the commissioner when this went down that when there is talk of conflict of interest and POST, it gives me enormous concerns,” said Holmes. “I think you would want a POST member in your command staff to ensure all the goals of POST are reflected in your command staff right down to your day-to-day officer.”

Fatima Ali-Salaam, chair of the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council (GMNC), has hosted Chrispin at meetings in the past on several occasions, and found him very valuable in the conversation.

“I just hope it gets resolved,” she said. “Commissioner Cox and Eddy Chrispin are both respected in our community. We just don’t want to see this. It’s awful watching it happen. There’s so many other things we need to get done…We have to stand up to some much bigger things right now, and we can’t get side-barred with things like this.”

Chrispin immigrated to Boston from Haiti in the 1970s and grew up here, graduating from Boston Latin School and later from UMass Boston in 1992. After working as state social worker, he attended law school at Hofstra University in New York and received his degree in 1996.

Following a stint with the Probation Department, he joined the BPD in 1999 and climbed the ranks from patrol officer to deputy superintendent.


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