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Speaker: Michael Cox was sworn in as Chief of Police for the City of Ann Arbor last September 24 following a nationwide search. After joining the Boston Police Department in February, 1989, he rose through the ranks to become Superintendent of the Bureau of Professional Development. His thirty years in Boston saw him serve in command positions as Deputy Superintendent of the Operations Division, Deputy Superintendent of the Internal Affairs Division, and Deputy Superintendent of the Forensic Technology Division. His time walking a beat from 1989 to 1995, and as a detective sergeant in various departments from 1995 to 2005, equipped him to serve with distinction as Zone Commander and Deputy Superintendent for Area E. He created the Boston Police Crime Scene Response Unit, which played such a prominent role in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing. His work modernizing 9-1-1 operations in Boston and throughout Massachusetts has left a lasting legacy there. He received an Executive M.B.A. from Boston University in 2018 and a M.A. in Criminal Justice from Curry College in 2000. He graduated from Providence College in 1997 with a B.S. degree in management.
Complaints of excessive use of deadly force by the Ann Arbor Police surfaced in November of 2014 when Officer David Ried, a 15 year veteran of the force, shot and killed 40-year old Aura Rosser. Responding to a 9-1-1 call about a domestic disturbance, he and his partner Mark Rabb entered the residence in question and saw her attacking the homeowner with a raised knife. She pivoted and came at them when they yelled at her to drop it. Ignoring their repeated demands to drop the knife, she came at them with it held in an attack position. Ried then took her out with a single shot from his service revolver. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor declined to charge Ried. “The law is clear,” Brian Mackie ruled, “and the evidence established that this tragic death was the result of lawful self-defense.”
Community protest against that decision prompted the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission to recommend expanded civilian oversight of the Police Department. Creation of an entity empowered to independently review such incidents, and hear other citizen complaints about police conduct, began to be debated by the City Council. The result was the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission. Last March 19, by an 8-3 vote, the Council confirmed the Commission’s 11 members who were selected following a process that solicited applications from interested members of the public.
Chief Cox played an instrumental role in implementing the community policing concept in Boston.
Today’s police departments have to be prepared for any eventuality. Events like the so-called “underwear bomber” or the Boston Marathon Bombing make that brutal fact undeniable. However, in the aftermath of incidents such as the Robb shooting, how the police are perceived in minority communities in particular has strained relations between the police and the general public. “When mistakes are made and [they get] tweeted out and reported on social media,” Cox told a reporter from MLive shortly arriving in Ann Arbor, “it gives the impression that every police officer acts out maliciously [which is] not the case.”
A priority for Chief Cox is to ensure a positive relationship between his officers and ALL the citizens of Ann Arbor. He wants to incentivize public engagement. He also wants the Ann Arbor Police to help foster community awareness through outreach programs that stress having police and residents work together. “All of us together are far smarter than anything I could ever be,” Cox believes, “and that’s what I’d like to tap into.”
Chief Cox will elaborate on this vision with us this afternoon.