Familiar Dot face is city’s No. 2 cop

Number two at BPD: Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross spoke at a press conference last week as Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, behind him, looked on. Photo by Chris LovettNumber two at BPD: Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross spoke at a press conference last week as Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, behind him, looked on. Photo by Chris LovettWilliam “Willie” Gross, a longtime law enforcement presence on the streets of Dorchester, is now the Boston Police Department’s superintendent-in-chief, the No. 2 position on the force.

Gross, a Maryland native who started as a patrol officer in 1985, is the first African-American to be appointed to the role. He has worked on the gang and drug control units, and became deputy superintendent in 2008. He was later promoted to superintendent and night commander, overseeing police responses to night calls.

“I’ve known Chief Gross for many years, going back to the early days of my career as a state representative in Dorchester,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in announcing on the promotion. “I know his deep ties to our community and broad experience give him a uniquely qualified perspective on addressing violence in Boston’s neighborhoods.”

Gross has worked in Area B-2, which includes Roxbury and Mission Hill, Area B-3 in Mattapan, Area C-11 in Dorchester, and Area C-6 in South Boston.

The outgoing superintendent-in-chief, Daniel Linskey, has been shifted over to lieutenant detective at the police academy.

Police Commissioner William Evans, who until last week was serving as interim before his own promotion, announced a new slate of appointments on Tuesday, with a heavy emphasis on women and people of color climbing up the ranks of leadership.

Lisa Holmes, who started at the police department the same year as Gross, is taking the role of superintendent at police academy. She had previously been one of several deputy superintendents, a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, and supervisor of the Grove Hall “Safe Street” community policing team.

“Both Mayor Walsh and I are confident that these promotions will continue to move us forward as we work closely with our community partners,” Evans said in a message posted on the department’s website. “And, we are most pleased that the makeup of this command staff underscores our commitment to a police department that represents and reflects the diversity of the neighborhoods that it serves.”

Meanwhile, Walsh continued making interim and permanent appointments at City Hall. Justin Holmes, a Dorchester native who now lives in South Boston, was tapped to be the interim chief information officer, handling city government’s information and technology systems. Holmes, who served on Maureen Feeney’s staff when she was the City Council president, was director of constituent engagement under former Mayor Thomas Menino. The temporary appointment will run for 60 days.

Feeney, now the city clerk, said Holmes has “leadership and people skills” that are crucial in City Hall. “I just admire how he interacts with people,” she said. “He’s always building coalitions and teams.” And
Rosemary Powers, a top aide to Gov. Deval Patrick who served on state Sen. Jack Hart’s staff when Feeney was president, said Holmes has a “calming personality.” “He’s a great guy,” she said.

Michael Dennehy, another hire with Dorchester ties, has been appointed interim commissioner of public works, after serving as assistant superintendent. Jim Gillooly, a deputy commissioner at the Transportation Department, has been appointed interim commissioner in that agency.

“There will be more announcements coming soon, but if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me,” chief of staff Daniel Koh wrote in an e-mail blasted out to city employees. “My door is always open to any of you.”

Walsh later announced a number of appointments through filings with the city clerk’s office, including Meredith Weenick as budget chief, Michael Galvin as commissioner of property management, Antonia Pollack as acting commissioner of parks, Paul Curran as supervisor of labor relations, Christopher Cook as director of the arts and tourism office, Geraldine Cuddyer as elections commissioner, Ron Rakow as assessing commissioner, and Brian Swett as environment and energy chief, among others who served in the Menino administration.