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Veteran officer to be Boston's 1st black police commissioner

PIVOTAL: William Gross (Photo credit: WBZ)

A 33-year old superintendent-in-chief apart of Boston's police force was named the city's first black police commissioner on Monday (Jul 23), bringing hope to a city which has longed struggled with perceptions of racism.

Associated Press reports that William Gross, who will replace Commissioner William Evans, pledged to continue working to strengthen relationships between police and their communities and combat what he called "senseless youth violence."

"If you want change, be the change. That's why I became a police officer," Gross told reporters after Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh announced his promotion.

Evans, who has served as the city's top cop since 2014, is retiring after nearly 40 years on the force to become police chief at Boston College.

56-year-old Gross has long been one of the public faces of the department and is well-known in the community.

He became a patrol officer in 1985 and worked in the gang and drug control units before becoming night commander in 2012. He was named the department's first black superintendent in chief in 2014.

According to Associated Press, Boston's police department has faced heavy criticism over race relations, most notably earlier this year when it posted a Black History Month tweet celebrating the late, former Boston Celtics coach Arnold "Red" Auerbach, who's white. Evans later apologised, calling the tweet "insensitive."

The department also came under fire that same month after a widely shared video showed a white officer stopping and questioning a black man who was on his way to a barbershop. Civil rights activists said the confrontation was indicative of the way law enforcement continuously view black men suspiciously.

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