On Monday, Boston’s acting Mayor Kim Janey fired the city’s police commissioner Dennis White, a move that came months after White was placed on administrative leave in February after the former cop’s history of alleged domestic violence became public.
More, via the Boston Globe:
In announcing White’s full removal from the nation’s oldest police force, Janey cited White’s own statements where he admitted to pushing and hitting members of his household. She said the allegations and evidence raised serious questions about his fitness to lead Boston police. Janey said that she had removed White from the force altogether after 32 years, since White had given up his civil service rank when he took the commissioner’s job. Sworn in in February, White served in the role for only two days before he was placed on leave following a Globe inquiry into past domestic violence allegations.
During the news conference, Boston’s acting mayor said that instead of expressing regret, growth, or contrition, White continued to vilify his former wife, eroding the public’s trust in him. His return to the commissioner post would send a chilling message to domestic violence victims and reinforce a “blue wall of silence” within the department, said Janey.
“As commissioner, he failed to lead by example,” she said, noting he had also failed to fully cooperate with the investigation into his past.
“I will not turn a blind eye to domestic violence against Black women, or any woman, for that matter,” Janey said during the press conference announcing White’s firing.
The details of White’s alleged history of domestic violence are troubling, and underscore a truth that anti-domestic violence advocates and policing critics have been making for years: cops and police departments don’t care about violence against women. The fact that White’s ex-wife is also a former Boston police officer only emphasizes that point.
And as a recently conducted independent investigation revealed, the Boston police department’s internal affairs division looked into the abuse allegations at the time, and gave White what amounts to a slap on the wrist. More details via the Washington Post, emphasis my own:
Many of the allegations stemmed from White’s self-described “difficult relationship” with is first wife, who was also a Boston police officer. The couple had been high school sweethearts, married in 1981 and had two daughters together. They separated in 1995, according to the report, and divorced in 1999.
Between 1998 and 1999, White’s first wife alleged that he had threatened to shoot her, slept with a gun, physically abused her and made her “very scared.” According to the investigation, White’s ex-wife kept a journal during their marriage that she passed to a relative for safekeeping. That relative told investigators that White’s ex-wife had said, “If anything happens to me, I want you to have this diary … If anything happens to me, it would be Dennis.”
The independent investigation noted that internal affairs looked into some allegations of domestic violence in 1999, after White allegedly said he “could have shot” his ex-wife and told his daughter that he slept with a gun. Internal affairs sustained a finding for neglect of duty and unreasonable judgment, but determined that White had not broken any laws. The Boston Police Department’s domestic violence unit had no records related to the allegations, according to the report.
White’s alleged violence wasn’t limited only to his ex-wife—in 1993, he also got into a “physical confrontation” with his niece, one in which White admitted that he pushed her and “struck her with a full swing of his arm and an open hand.” According to the Post, his niece “alleged that White shoved her down the stairs inside his house and forced her outside,” an allegation that White disputed. As the Post noted, despite both White and his niece filing a police report, the Boston police department’s internal affairs division “did not sustain a complaint over the incident.”
White is painting his firing as an example of yet another Black man being accused of crimes he did not commit, and has in the past claimed that he was the victim of his ex-wife’s abuse. (His ex-wife, in an interview with the Boston Globe, agreed that they had a “terrible relationship” but continued to assert that he was physically as well as mentally abusive.) On Monday, White’s attorney Nicholas Carter made that argument in a statement he released, writing, “He is a Black man, falsely accused of crimes, not given a fair trial or hearing, and then convicted, or terminated which is the equivalent here. This reflects an ugly pattern in our country.” Carter added of acting Mayor Janey, “She destroyed a good man’s name and livelihood in the process.”
But acting Mayor Janey, the city’s first Black mayor, said White’s firing was a move made in the interests of, as she put it, “accountability and transparency.” “It is a new day. We have a new vision for policing in Boston,” Janey said on Monday, adding, “We have to reimagine policing.”