During a week in which Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins exchanged harsh words with state public safety officials over a backlash to her plan to stop prosecuting low-level non-violent crimes, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross added his own two cents Tuesday.
Speaking with reporters outside of a Boston City Council hearing, Gross voiced support for Rollins overall goals — but made clear that he intends to enforce his own priorities when it comes to arrests.
“I totally respect her, and her ability to use her discretion on a case-by-case basis,” Gross said. “But when people think you can go and commit shoplifting, acts of violence and this and that, we will use our discretion to lock them up. You will not get a free pass because you misinterpreted what the district attorney put on her list.”
“So we’re definitely going to work together in partnership, and we’re definitely going to move forward," he added. "And the BPD will be making arrests, trust me.”
A letter from Public Safety and Security Secretary Thomas A. Turco III criticizing Rollin's agenda became public on Thursday, prompting harsh criticism from Rollins during an event on Sunday.
"Had the secretary or the governor picked up the phone and spoken to me, [or] sat down and said, 'We disagree with everything you're saying,' and then written this letter, you wouldn't have heard a word from me," Rollins said. "We are allowed to disagree with each other, but what you're not going to do is disrespect this office."
Gross' comments came during a hearing by the City Council’s Committee on Human Rights around the Boston Police Department’s relationship with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. The hearing was in response to reports that the BPD allegedly cooperated with ICE officers in the arrest of Jose Martin Paz Flores, a native Honduran man who at the time didn't have authorization to work in the United States.
Rollins testified briefly at that hearing, saying that police officers should not be involved in federal immigration enforcement and that coordination undermines faith in local law enforcement.