William Gross will make history on Monday when he becomes the first black police commissioner for the city of Boston.
Before starting his new job, Gross spoke exclusively with NBC10 Boston’s Latoyia Edwards about not being afraid to tackle tough issues like racial tensions, police brutality and the anti-police movement.
As Gross walks through Boston neighborhoods, he is always mentoring kids. It’s something he learned from his coaches as a 12-year-old football player in Dorchester.
"It can start with a coach. Or just a hi. A comforting word. But look what it manifests to be,” he said.
“Being the first allows me to showcase the people that we're the first in making sure that everybody had the ability and chance to become either a cadet, patrol officer, all the way up to commissioner," he said. "This first means you don’t forget where you came from and you pave the road so that there will be more firsts.”
Success has not come easy for Gross, though.
"There were people that called me Uncle Tom, sell outs, you're crazy, they hate you, but when I got on board, I learned that not all white cops are bad, not all black cops are good. Good people are good people,” he said.
Gross says he’s ready to tackle national issues like police brutality and the anti-police movement.
“If things did happen in the past between police or current, acknowledge it and then you educate people about how we're doing things."
Gross specializes in de-escalating tensions.
In March 2015, an angry mob surrounded Gross at a double shooting in Roxbury where an officer was shot in the face and the shooter was dead.
“Calling me every N-word in the book, everything in the book, talking about how we had killed this man as he was on his knees. I said, 'no that is not the case,' and I started explaining everything. I never yelled. I never screamed. But people from the community, they were listening.”
Since his historic appointment, people have been congratulating Gross and say they are proud of his accomplishment.
But what’s his plan for the city? Gross says he’s going to take community policing to the next level.
“The police, the community, the private sector, right? The clergy, professional sports team, even media, getting it out, telling fair stories like alright one or two percent are doing bad but you have all the rest doing the good things. Thats what creates the village," he said.
William Gross, a kid from a single parent home in Dorchester, is now ready to lead the city of Boston’s police force.