Suffolk County

25 Investigates: Varying views on Michael Cox’s tenure as Ann Arbor police chief

BOSTON — Boston’s top cop acknowledges his appointment comes at a critical time for law enforcement. Police have been under the microscope since the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

But, newly named Police Commissioner Michael Cox says he is committed to making sure his officers feel supported in their job to protect the community.

25 Investigates was first to report his selection on Tuesday night.

Cox, who served as chief of the Ann Arbor, Michigan Police Department before coming to Boston, was formally appointed by Mayor Michelle Wu during a Wednesday press conference at a Roxbury playground.

The appointment is a homecoming for Cox, who was raised in Boston. He is also a veteran of the Boston Police Department. He joined the forced in 1989 and served in several roles before rising to the rank of superintendent

In 1995, when he was working undercover in Boston, he was severely beaten by his fellow police officers, after they mistook him for a murder suspect.

The department reportedly tried to cover it up, but Cox filed a civil rights lawsuit and won.

One of the officers who beat Cox is still on the force today.

“After this incident happened, I had a choice to either leave or stay. I chose to stay because I believe in policing in kind of a community-friendly way,” he said during the news conference in response to questions about the beating.

His tenure in Ann Arbor was not without controversy.

25 Investigates reviewed paperwork from an investigation where Cox was briefly place on leave there.

A lieutenant complained that Cox tried to discourage her from investigating a parking clerk who had been fixing tickets for his girlfriend.

Cox admits he could have handled the situation differently. An investigation found he did not break any department policies.

“It was kind of an awkward situation for him and a regrettable one, I believe,” said Ann Arbor City Councilmember Ali Ramwali, who worked closely with Cox. “I think it set us back a little bit. The city had to put the police chief on administrative leave and besmirch his perfect record.”

25 Investigates also reached out to the union that represents police officers in Ann Arbor. Its president told 25 Investigates he had a good working relationship with Cox and wished him well in his new role in Boston.

But a former Ann Arbor police officer and member of the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) provided a more critical assessment of Cox.

“Chief Cox would always discuss community policing but never put forth a plan forward to implement it,” said Eric Ronewicz, an executive board member of POAM who worked under Cox’s leadership until August 2020.

Ronewicz added that Cox was often “undermined” by his upper command. Nevertheless, he says, “I really enjoyed the personable relationship that we were able to establish with each other.”

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