The hunt for Boston’s next police commissioner should focus not on racial issues but on finding a proved leader, experienced in fighting urban crime, who can redirect the department and restore public confidence, says Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi. With violence in mostly black neighborhoods on the rise, Mayor Thomas Menino is under pressure from some black community leaders to make race a major criterion in the search.
“On this issue, you need to be color-blind,” says Los Angeles police chief William Bratton, who previously headed the police forces in New York City and Boston. “Latino, African-American, to have that as one of the boxes you check, you’re crazy.” Bratton says a chief needs “the right cops practicing good policing; It’s not rocket science.” Menino will pick the city’s next top cop without a public search process. He called upon David D’Alessandro, the former CEO of John Hancock Financial Services and a longtime friend, to coordinate the process. Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Washington-based Police Executive Research Forum, said that after a sit-down with D’Alessandro, he is convinced “the mayor wants to find the best person” and has not yet determined who that is. Wexler, who agreed to play an advisory role in the Boston process, said the vast majority of chiefs chosen across the country come from within the department.