BOSTON (WHDH) - William Gross made history as Boston’s first Black police commissioner. Now he is calling it quits after 37 years on the force.
Gross sat down with 7NEWS’s Kimberly Bookman on his last day to answer seven questions about his life and time on the force.
- What is your favorite restaurant?
- “You’re going to get me in trouble. Can I ethically answer that,” Gross joked. The soon-to-be-former commissioner said he liked to go to Capital Grille in Chestnut Hill, all the restaurants in the North End and local, neighborhood shops. “Sometimes, sometimes there’s folks in backyards that’s cooking in Mattapan, Dorchester, Charlestown. I’ve had great meals and sometimes I slip them a little something to help with the cost of the supplies,” he said.
- How do you take your Dunkin’?
- “I hardly ever drink coffee,” Gross said. When he was in Miami, he said he enjoyed a Cuban coffee now and then but now he sticks to flavored water and diet Mountain Dew. Though for him, donuts are not off the table.
- Who is your favorite Boston sports team player?
- “I can’t say players because, I think, the way I speak and the way I was taught — I am an original Roxbury Raiders pop warner — Harry and Dennis Wilson never taught me to concentrate on one person,” he said. “It’s a team.” In his office, Gross said he has a Boston police plaque representing each of the professional sports teams that lists the championships. “My favorite is all those teams because you do not win championships without teamwork.”
- Where will you be during the next championship parade since you won’t have to work?
- Gross said he won’t be far. He said he plans to be right out there with the people. “But, you won’t see me out at 2 a.m. at night. That will be the next commissioner, not me.”
- You are known for your fedora and your fashion sense, any plans to pass it down to the next commissioner?
- Gross credited his Uncle Ben from Baltimore for instilling his keen fashion sense in him. “My Uncle Ben always had a hat.” As for his successor, Dennis White, Gross said he has already had a discussion about the “two H’s” — hats and hugs. “He is definitely not going to wear any hats, he’ll give some hugs.”
- Who is the most inspirational person you have met during your time on the force?
- This question seemed to stump the former commissioner who said, “there are some unsung heroes out there.” He recalled meeting some of Boston’s senior citizens whose myriad life experiences informed his decisions along the way. “When you talk to the seniors of each and every ethnicity when you sit down and talk to them, you’ll see what’s missing. The story, the shared experience, the wisdom, the wealth in knowledge, pain and suffering, but also jubilation.” He said these people who have influenced him always spoke of a higher presence that wants everyone to work together.
- What advice does your mother give you?
- “My mother always checks me,” Gross said with a chuckle. The biggest piece of advice she gave to him — don’t get too big for your britches. “Don’t get a big head, be humble, but don’t take any crap either,” he explained. He said his mother has worked hard to instill a sense of balance within him and nods to his extended family for driving it home. He told 7NEWS that she sent him a text message on his final day asking if he needed her support.
With more free time, Gross said he plans on spending more time taking care of himself and his family. As for his legacy, he said he hopes he will be remembered as a promoter of kindness and an advocate for those coming behind him.
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