On Monday, acting mayor Kim Janey (D) announced that the 32-year veteran of the Boston Police Department had been fired from his position as the civilian leader of the agency.
“The residents of Boston must have confidence that the officers charged with enforcing laws are themselves people of integrity,” Janey said at a news conference Monday, the Boston Globe reported.
White has denied the allegations of abuse, but also told independent investigators that he and his ex-wife had “pushed each other” and also admitted to hitting a niece in what he called self-defense.
“Commissioner White is deeply disappointed by Acting Mayor Janey’s decision,” Nick Carter, an attorney for White, said in a statement shared with The Washington Post. “He is a Black man, falsely accused of crimes, not given a fair trial or hearing, and then convicted, or terminated which is the equivalent here. This reflects an ugly pattern in our country.”
Janey, who is the first Black woman to serve as mayor of Boston, rebutted the suggestion that race played a role in her decision to remove White from his position.
“I will not turn a blind eye to domestic violence against Black women, or any woman, for that matter,” she said Monday.
Janey said that the city would conduct a “national search” for a new commissioner, and that all future candidates for leadership positions in the Boston Police would have to undergo background checks and vetting, the Globe reported.
White, who was sworn into office in February, was suspended two days later after the Boston Globe sent inquiries about the past allegations of domestic abuse. An independent report on White, which was provided to the city on April 29, described allegations dating to the 1990s from White’s ex-wife and other family members. Some incidents resulted in police reports at the time that they occurred, but White was never found to have violated the law.
Many of the allegations stemmed from White’s self-described “difficult relationship” with his first wife, who was also a Boston police officer. The couple had been high school sweethearts, married in 1981 and had two daughters together. They separated in 1995, according to the report, and divorced in 1999.
Between 1998 and 1999, White’s first wife alleged that he had threatened to shoot her, slept with a gun, physically abused her and made her “very scared.” According to the investigation, White’s ex-wife kept a journal during their marriage that she passed to a relative for safekeeping. That relative told investigators that White’s ex-wife had said, “If anything happens to me, I want you to have this diary. … If anything happens to me, it would be Dennis.”
The independent investigation noted that internal affairs looked into some allegations of domestic violence in 1999, after White allegedly said he “could have shot” his ex-wife and told his daughter that he slept with a gun. Internal affairs sustained a finding for neglect of duty and unreasonable judgment, but determined that White had not broken any laws. The Boston Police Department’s domestic violence unit had no records related to the allegations, according to the report.
In September 1993, the internal affairs division also investigated a dispute between White and his niece over $10 that allegedly led to a “physical confrontation,” which White described as “heated fisticuffs.” White told investigators that his niece began swearing, struck him and kicked his knee, which was already injured after a recent surgery.
“White admitted that he pushed [his niece] and struck her with a full swing of his arm and an open hand, which he alleges was in self-defense,” the report said.
His niece alleged that White shoved her down the stairs inside his house and forced her outside. White denied that allegation, and told investigators he had held her arm and walked her down five steps before releasing her at the front door.
Both White and his niece reported the incident to police, and the niece obtained a protection order against White for one year. The internal affairs division did not sustain a complaint over the incident.
White denied abusing members of his family to investigators this year and his lawyer repeated those denials in a statement shared with The Post, claiming that the independent investigation was “biased” and failed to include “witnesses with exculpatory information.” White intends to sue the city for civil rights violations, his lawyer added.
“The Acting Mayor published the report and communicated that Dennis White was guilty of the allegations and needed to go, without pausing to evaluate the obvious flaws in the report,” Carter said in a statement. “She destroyed a good man’s name and livelihood in the process.”
But Janey said on Monday that allowing White to remain in office after the investigation’s findings “would send a chilling message to victims of domestic violence, and reinforce a culture of fear and a blue wall of silence in our Police Department.”