Where Does Potential Mayoral Candidate William Gross Stand On The Issues?

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/01/13/where-does-potential-mayoral-candidate-william-gross-stand-on-the-issues/

William Gross may want to switch offices in Boston this year.

There is a good chance that the Boston Police Commissioner will run for mayor of Boston now that president-elect Joe Biden nominated Marty Walsh as his Labor Secretary, as many news outlets including WBZ have reported.

Reports have said that Gross is 90 percent in and just needs to talk to his family before making a formal announcement.

What does Gross believe about public policy?

It doesn’t look as though he’s ever made a political donation and there are many political issues that he has never publicly commented on. However, New Boston Post researched his previous statements on an array of political issues to give one an idea of where he may stand on things while running for office or if elected to office.

Here is a look at those positions.


Gun Control

Gross has expressed support for some forms of gun control, including voluntary gun buybacks. That included the 2018 regional one-day gun buyback that Walsh and Gross collaborated on in December 2018. It took place at six locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and allowed people to anonymously drop off guns and ammunition they no longer wanted, no questions asked, in exchange for a $100 Target gift card.

“This One Day Buy Back is a unique event in that it strengthens the bridge between the city, public safety, and the health community around gun violence. Street violence and gun suicides are issues that touch all facets of the community and are a shared responsibility,” Gross said at the time, according to Sampan. “By participating in this regional buy back, we provide an opportunity for family members to get guns out of their houses, and off the streets, with no questions asked. We are all playing an important role in this fight against gun violence.  I’ve said it before, but one gun off the street is one gun out of the hands of a kid in our community and possibly one life saved.”

In 2019, Gross supported bills that would allow police to impound vehicles found with illegal firearms or firearms used in drive-by shootings.

“The motor vehicles are being used as a conduit to help commit crimes, and oftentimes the criminals are utilizing their friends and family’s motor vehicles to transport illegal firearms,” he reportedly said at the time

He supports requiring medical professionals to ask their patients if they have any guns in the home to try to see if there is any added risk of suicide or gun violence in the home.

He also supports having all Massachusetts police provide ballistics information on all crimes to the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. Ballistics evidence refers to, “gunshot residue, angle of trajectory, distance from the target, bullet entrance and exit marks, and damage,” according to the Maryland Criminal Defense Group.



Gross appears to support Boston’s status as a sanctuary city and has suggested that while he is willing to cooperate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), that he doesn’t see enforcing immigration law as a responsibility of the Boston Police Department.

“I tell you what, all I’m interested in is repeat violent offenders,” he told WBZ in 2019. “Once you come to Boston, no matter where you hail from, you’re a citizen of Boston. We are not agents of ICE. We are here in this community protecting all citizens no matter where they hail from.”

“But here’s a message as well to those committed to crime,” he continued. “You do harm to our citizens, we will lock you up, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. I’m not going to let any title or any location where someone’s from stop justice for victims of crime.”

Gross has identified certain situations in which he will work with ICE, including cases with violent crimes and drug trafficking. Yet he does not support asking victims of crimes whether or not they’re here legally or illegally, as Commonwealth Magazine reported in 2019.



During the coronavirus emergency, Gross offered a hard-headed view of crime. 

Around mid-2020, inmates across the state were let out early to prevent the spread of coronavirus behind bars. One of those people released shot and killed someone in Boston in early May.

Gross ripped the idea that such people should be let out early because of the virus.

“Just last week, a known gang member, carrying a firearm, firing a firearm, home invasion — released. When you do things like that, it sets a mentality on these streets that people can do what they want,” Gross said, according to WCVB. “This is unacceptable. People who have been locked up for violent offenses and carrying a firearm should not be released on personals, and I could care less if they get sick in jail or not.”

He reiterated that point after another murder a few weeks later in the city.

“If you feel so comfortable releasing them, let them stay in your house with your family,” Gross said, according to CBS Boston. “Look at the numbers. Five homicides in a row, attempted murder of four police officers in broad daylight, a 10-year-old girl got shot in her apartment, a 17-year-old girl getting murdered on the street. The mentality on the street is ‘We can do whatever we want because there’s no repercussions, the courts are closed’.”

Gross also supported opening criminal courts amid the coronavirus emergency to try suspects charged with crimes, as CBS Boston reported.



Gross has stated that he doesn’t have a problem with marijuana shops opening up in the city of Boston.

“It’s not going to be an ‘us versus them’ just because of the mere moniker of marijuana,” Gross told MassLive. “We as the Boston Police Department are completely rooted in community policing. We support all businesses and what they bring to the table.”

However, when it comes to homeless people using hard drugs in the streets and causing problems, Gross does not tolerate that.

His police department made dozens of arrests at Methadone Mile in 2019 and disposed of some wheelchairs.

“Just because someone goes down and sees us discarding a wheelchair that’s pretty much in a biohazardous condition doesn’t mean that we took that from someone and wrenched that from them and that they needed that aid,” he told WBZ. “The hospital’s 300 yards away, and we make sure that anyone who needs a wheelchair gets it.”

However, Gross doesn’t believe in criminalizing addiction, referring to the crack epidemic as an example of where it wasn’t effective.

“You cannot lock away an addiction or dependency,” Gross told Boston.com in 2018. “So what we’ve learned from that is everybody is going to have to help out to address this opioid crisis. Our role is to protect the victims. How do you do that? There are people bringing in the drugs and the guns. We have to identify those folks so that they don’t keep making more and more addicts out on the street. Whether they’re selling the pills or heroin, our job is to identify those individuals that are selling that.”



Gross supports having police officers in public schools, something that Boston city councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell does not.

Gross explained why to WCVB last summer.

“We’re talking about foreign and domestic protection from terrorists, active shooters, sovereign nation,” Gross said. “It’s the 21st century. We’ve seen these tragedies.”

 “Don’t remove the police officers from the school. They’re needed there,” Gross continued. “But let’s make sure they’re trained in such a way that they aren’t deemed a threat or children aren’t scared of them, and that they will look at them as allies.”

Gross also supported the Read to a Child initiative where Boston public schools pair up police officers and cadets with elementary school students to read to them.

“Read to a Child’s community and corporate partnerships greatly benefit our students and enable our children to get the extra help and attention they need for a brighter future,” Gross said in a press release. “It is my goal to support the children in our communities by participating in the Lunchtime Reading Program and enabling students and police officers to get to know each other earlier in a child’s life. Relationships are key to building trust. Our officers work hard every day to create and strengthen relationships with the community. It is clear to me that the relationships that develop with the children in the Lunchtime Reading Program will greatly benefit families and communities over time.”



What does Gross think about racial issues?

Last year WCVB asked Gross if he thinks Boston is a “racist city.”

He responded by saying, “People still think there’s racism. It’s not as overt. Some people say, ‘Hey, it’s worse when it’s hidden because you really don’t know who’s who’s who.’ But I don’t think it’s as bad as it was in the past. I would just say:  This is our city, let’s all of us work together on the ground. Let’s go.”

In that same interview, Gross answered “No” when asked if he felt as though his police department unfairly targeted black and brown people.

When sworn in as police commissioner, however, Gross stated that one of his priorities leading the department would be diversifying the police force, according to The New York Times.

A statement from Gross on BPD News reiterates that idea. It reads, “Relationships are key to building trust. Our officers will work hard every day to create and strengthen relationships with the community. And we will prioritize and emphasize inclusion and diversity in all that we do. Together, we will ensure that all of Boston’s neighborhoods are safe.”


Police Reform

Does Gross support defunding the police?

He told WCVB last year, “Defunding police, as long as funds go into the services that will help the community and police work together in partnership, great.”

And when they asked him if he supported Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s proposal to cut $12 million from the Boston Police Department budget, he said, “The mayor is the mayor. If those numbers will help the city and the police, then we have to restructure.”

Last October, Gross accepted all of the policing reforms recommendations issued by Walsh, as WBUR explained.

“In addition to the creation of the independent Office of Police Accountability and Transparency, other recommendations include:  creating a new diversity and inclusion unit at the department, changing the hiring rules to give preference to graduates of Boston high schools, expanding the body camera program to all uniformed officers and creating an online dashboard detailing department data, including use of force and deaths in custody,” WBUR reported October 13, 2020.

Gross faced criticism in June 2020 for meeting with then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr to discuss police reform. Barr asked Gross for a personal picture, and while Gross told him to not post it to social media, as Boston.com pointed out, Barr’s team did anyway.

“That’s on me, and if it gave people the wrong image, that’s on me,” Gross told Boston.com. “But that will also give me an opportunity to educate you about who I am and what I stand for, and I’m not a Black man that is going to be silent when overseers from the past said, ‘Shut up, you talk when I want you to talk, you talk to whoever I want you to talk to and stay in your corner.’ I’ll give up this job before any of that b––– happens in my life.”

In response to the photo, city councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell tweeted:  “defund whatever the hell this is.”