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Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Why Boston Police Officer Demoted: Attorney General Doesn’t Know, But Mayor Wu Does

By meerna Jul11,2024
Why Boston Police Officer Demoted: Attorney General Doesn’t Know, But Mayor Wu Does

In radio appearances this week, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell offered conflicting perspectives on the demotion of a Boston police officer after his appointment to a state police oversight commission.

Former Boston Police Department deputy chief and executive Eddy Chrispin was demoted to detective sergeant after Campbell appointed him to the state’s influential new board to improve accountability and standards in law enforcement, the Police Officers Standards and Training Commission, or POST.

According to Chrispin, in comments to the Boston Globe, Police Commissioner Michael Cox said that Chrispin’s seat on the commission and membership in the command cadre constituted a conflict of interest. Chrispin, a 25-year veteran of the department, said he was forced to choose between the two positions and demoted when he chose to remain on the commission.

“We emphasize that he should be allowed to do both,” Campbell told Boston Public Radio GBH on Wednesday. She said her office found no violations of law or conflicts of interest when it appointed Chrispin to the commission.

Eddy Chrispin, then a Boston police sergeant and president of MAMLEO (Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers), speaks to the media in July 2020 as officers and local clergy hold a news conference on the steps of the Massachusetts State House. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Asked why she thought Chrispin might have been forced to choose between staying on the command staff or the commission, Campbell said, “I have no idea. I’ve told people that’s a question for the mayor and the commissioner.”

The Boston Police Department did not respond to questions from MassLive on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu appeared on Boston Public Radio to defend Cox, saying that every city department “should be led by someone who has the ability to put together their own leadership team.”

“They need to be able to surround themselves with people of their own choosing, and I fully support (the commissioner’s) decision,” Wu said.

Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox (right) faces reporters as Boston Mayor Michelle Wu (left) looks on during an inaugural news conference July 13, 2022, in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. (Steven Senne)/AP Photo)

She said Cox wanted the POST Commission’s oversight to be independent of the interests of the Boston Police Department and that he felt senior department management officials should not serve on the nine-member commission.

The commission has broad authority over some 430 police departments in Massachusetts and the thousands of officers they employ.

The nine commissioners come from a variety of backgrounds in criminal justice and social work. One seat is reserved for police chief, currently held by Framingham Chief Lester Baker. Another seat is held by Officer Larry Calderone, president of Boston’s largest police union.

In an interview with GBH, Wu said she was pleased to have Chrispin join the commission, noting his work on the Boston Police Reform Task Force, convened in 2020 by former Mayor Marty Walsh.

Wu also praised Cox, noting that his command staff is two-thirds people of color and 30% women, a high mark for the department’s senior leadership. Both Cox and Chrispin are black.

During her radio appearance, the mayor also highlighted other department successes, including a low crime rate that has become the envy of Boston and a new contract with the department’s largest union that includes first-of-its-kind reforms.

But the decision to remove Chrispin from office because of his commission membership created a multi-day headache for the mayor and the police department, as Campbell, commission leadership and associations of people of color in law enforcement criticized the decision as unfair.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaks at a news conference at Boston City Hall with Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox after the city and its largest police union reached a new contract on December 5, 2023. (Will Katcher/MassLive)

Chrispin joined the Boston Police Department in 1999, rising from patrol to the ranks of senior officers in the department. He previously served as a zone commander for Boston’s six busiest police precincts, a department spokesman, and as a police academy instructor.

In GBH, Campbell described Chrispin as an “outstanding” candidate for the POST Commission.

“Deputy Chief Chrispin served the Boston community for 25 years, where he advocated for better community policing and increased opportunities for officers of color and women,” Campbell said in a statement Tuesday.

Boston City Councilman Ed Flynn called Chrispin an “outstanding leader” and urged his “continued leadership” in the Boston Police Department command staff.

The Massachusetts Association of Police Officers (MAMLEO), of which Chrispin is a former president, said on Facebook that it “supports Deputy Chief Chrispin” and demanded “his immediate reinstatement to the rank of commander.”

The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers said he was “a strong and vocal advocate for the rights of officers of color, women, and non-traditional police communities.”

The association noted in a statement that senior police officers typically serve with the consent of department leadership, but said such a demotion requires “cause or factual evidence of wrongdoing or incompetence.”

“It is now becoming abundantly clear that there must be a high degree of accountability, truthfulness and honesty that is owed to the Boston community and its law enforcement agencies,” the association said. “They deserve a full and complete explanation of the exact reasoning behind the demotion of a highly respected member of the Boston area law enforcement community and a valued member of our national body.”

Chrispin told the Globe he was “frustrated” and “dismayed” by his demotion.

POST Commission Executive Director Enrique Zuniga said in a statement Monday that the agency was “deeply disappointed” to learn of Chrispin’s demotion.

Zuniga said the commission has protocols to prevent conflicts of interest and called on Boston police leadership to reverse the “unjustified” decision.

“We see no valid reason why Commissioner Chrispin’s appointment to the POST Commission should result in his demotion,” he said.

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