Boston top cop is fired after decades-old domestic violence accusations emerge

Dennis White was put on leave two days after he was appointed

Namita Singh
Tuesday 08 June 2021 10:42
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<p>File: This undated photo provided Thursday, 28 January 2021, by the City of Boston shows Dennis White, who Mayor Marty Walsh appointed as the 43rd Commissioner of the Boston Police Department</p>

File: This undated photo provided Thursday, 28 January 2021, by the City of Boston shows Dennis White, who Mayor Marty Walsh appointed as the 43rd Commissioner of the Boston Police Department

Boston’s acting mayor on Monday fired the city’s police commissioner over decades-old allegations of domestic violence that came to light shortly after his appointment in February.

Calling it an “inescapable conclusion”, acting mayor Kim Janey announced the decision to remove Dennis White as the top police official of the city, four months after he was placed on leave over the allegations.

“I reached this decision after carefully considering the results of an independent investigation into multiple allegations of domestic violence against Dennis White along with testimony and information he provided,” Ms Janey said.

The mayor moved to fire him after she held an hour-long removal hearing last week, where Mr White was presented with his final formal opportunity to make a case against the termination of his services.

“It is clear that Dennis White’s return as commissioner would send a chilling message to victims of domestic violence in our city and reinforce a culture of fear and a blue wall of silence in our police department,” Mayor Janey said.

She further said that while Mr White asserted that the domestic violence allegations against him are false, “he stated in his hearing and during the investigation that he has hit and pushed members of his household.”

“The allegations and evidence of this behaviour raised serious questions about his fitness to lead the Boston Police Department and Dennis White’s actions in recent weeks have done even more to erode public trust.”

Mr White had failed to fully cooperate during the investigation into claims made against him as he was a “reoccurring presence” in the police headquarters, despite being on leave, she said. This created a “climate of intimidation” within the force, the mayor said.

Ms Janey, who is the city’s first woman and Black mayor, responded to the allegations of racism levelled by Mr White and his attorney, Nick Carter.

“The disparate treatment of Black people in our country is a general concern but let’s be clear, racism is a burden carried by both men and women of colour and I will not turn a blind eye to domestic violence against Black women — or any woman for that matter,” she said.

The allegations against Mr White emerged immediately after former mayor Martin J Walsh swore him as the police commissioner in February. He was suspended after the Boston Globe reported that a restraining order had been issued against Mr White in 1999 after he was accused of pushing and threatening to shoot his then-wife, a fellow police officer.

The judge had ordered him to stay away from his wife and children as well as surrender his service weapon. The couple divorced in 2001.

An investigative report released in May found that Mr White subjected his ex-wife to “physical and mental abuse” and that he was also involved in a “heated fisticuffs” with a young woman in 1993.

According to the report, though White admitted to striking her with a full swing of his arm and open hand, but said that he was acting in self-defence.

While no disciplinary action was taken against Mr White in the allegation of abuse against his wife, the former mayor had abruptly placed Mr White on leave following the Boston Globe report.

“These disturbing issues were not known to me or my staff, but should have been at the forefront,” Mr Walsh, now secretary of the Department of Labor, said. Disputing the claim, Mr White said in a sworn affidavit that he had informed the former mayor about the restraining order.

White had moved court last month to block the firing but it denied his bid, following which Ms Janey scheduled his termination hearing.

Slamming Mayor Janey’s decision to oust Mr White, his attorney Mr Carter said that he would move the court to “recover for his own losses and to send a message that this kind of unlawful and harmful treatment must not be allowed to happen again to anyone.”

“In a rush to judgment, the Acting Mayor got this one wrong and destroyed Dennis White in the process,” Carter said.

Additional reporting from the wires

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