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New Boston police chief placed on leave after domestic abuse allegations surface

New Boston police chief placed on leave after domestic abuse allegations surface
© Boston Police Department

Boston’s newly appointed police commissioner Dennis White was placed on leave Wednesday night after an investigation by The Boston Globe revealed allegations of domestic violence.

Boston Mayor Marty WalshMarty WalshHow ERA is good for the economy Boston mayor fires city's police commissioner months after domestic abuse allegations emerge Senate Latino Democrats warn about low Hispanic vaccination rates MORE (D) made the announcement just two days after the 32-year veteran officer was sworn in as commissioner. He replaced William Gross, who resigned abruptly last week.

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White allegedly pushed and threatened to shoot his then-wife, who was also a Boston police officer, in May 1999. He was reportedly ordered to stay away from his wife and children in a subsequent restraining order, as well as surrender his service weapon.

“These disturbing issues were not known to me or my staff, but should have been at the forefront,” Walsh said in a statement. “Upon learning of these serious allegations, I immediately acted.”

Walsh, who was in Washington, D.C., for his Senate nomination hearing to be President Biden’s Labor secretary, said the city will hire an outside lawyer to “conduct a full and impartial investigation.”

In the meantime, Walsh appointed Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long to serve as acting commissioner.

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The allegations came to light following inquiries from the Globe about White and his work history, since he was little known outside of the department. 

A reporter for the newspaper presented the city with the domestic violence allegations they had discovered in court documents.

There is no evidence indicating White was criminally charged, according to the Globe.

Documents obtained by the outlet showed White’s wife, who he had been married to for nearly 20 years as of 1999, accused him of pushing her and hitting her once.

She wrote in her restraining order application that “we argue a lot and he is always trying to push me down and I am afraid that he may come inside and kill me because he is angry.” 

White’s daughter, who was 17 at the time, recalled for a detective that her father had told her not to startle him when he was sleeping because “I sleep with a gun under my pillow.”

An attorney representing White’s wife in a September 2000 divorce filing wrote that "the husband has admitted to hitting the wife (once) and sleeping with a gun under his pillow.”

An attorney for White wrote that his client “adamantly denies ever striking the Wife [or] threatening to cause her harm.”

However, his lawyer wrote that “the husband concedes that there were incidents of fighting between the parties and that on some occasions, they escalated to some physical contact by both parties, including the wife.”

White’s legal team argued that the restraining order was an attempt to push White away from his home and children, as well as “humiliate him” personally and professionally, according to the documents obtained by the Globe.