Boston’s Police Chief Resigns, Amid Criticism About Diversity

Edward Davis’s resignation comes as the police chief has been criticized for not having a more diverse workforce.

Posted: 09/23/2013 05:40 PM EDT

Boston’s police chief, Edward F. Davis, resigned Monday after seven years in the position in part because of criticism from various mayoral candidates that he did not place a great enough effort into promoting diversity in the city’s law enforcement ranks.

The resignation was hailed by the leaders of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, a group that has long called for Davis to step down.

“I think it’s time and, frankly, past time for him to step down,” said Larry Ellison, president of the organization, in an interview with BET.com. The association earlier this year passed a vote of no confidence regarding the police chief and has long called for his resignation.

“There is a culture here in Boston now that has not been reflected in the level of diversity in the police department,” he said. “Boston is now almost 54 percent African-American and Latino and this department doesn’t reflect that.”

The diversity of the police department – and criticism of Davis – has been a factor in the crowded race for mayor in Boston. At the same time, it serves as a sign of how important the issue of police diversity has become in major cities in the United States.

After cities have dealt with racial tensions in citizen dealings with police officers, the issue of law enforcement diversity has gained increased focus.

“I tend to think that cities focus on diversity when there is a controversy,” said Michael Fauntroy, a professor of political science at Howard University, in an interview with BET.com.

“The research is clear that diversity is important and we know that there are institutions that have come to the conclusion that diversity is good business,” Fauntroy said. “Hopefully, this crowded race for mayor in Boston will cause people to think more seriously about diversity in their police department.”

Although Davis has maintained that his senior leadership team has been highly diverse, leaders of the minority officers’ group contend that there are no district commanders of color and that the overwhelming majority of the department’s officers are white men.

“Hopefully we’ll have a police commissioner coming in who is focused on all members, and not just a few,” Ellison said.

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 (Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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