Janey expects report on Boston police commissioner Dennis White this month

Acting mayor sounds conflicted on issues the case raises 

ACTING BOSTON MAYOR Kim Janey said she expects the investigation into domestic violence allegations against Boston’s police commissioner to be completed sometime this month — and she voiced mixed sentiments about the issue at the center of the probe.

Janey, appearing on WGBH radio, told hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan that she anticipates receiving a report on Dennis White and making a decision about his plight in the next few weeks. 

White was appointed to the post hastily following former commissioner William Gross’s abrupt retirement in late January. But two days after he was sworn in, White was placed on paid leave following revelations of a 1999 allegation by his then-wife of domestic violence. Mayor Marty Walsh ordered an outside investigation of the incident, but there has been no word from City Hall since then of the status of the probe.

“We do expect that that investigation will conclude in the coming weeks — this month,” said Janey, who took over as acting mayor on March 22 following Wash’s resignation to become US labor secretary. Once she has the report, Janey said, she will be able to “make an informed decision about the future.” 

Janey said she does not know what the investigation will show, but she waded into the difficult issues that have been raised about domestic violence allegations, and seemed to suggest a way forward for White. 

“You’re right, these allegations are from way back,” she said in answer to a question from Braude about the case. “They are very serious allegations. I do believe people should have the opportunity to move on from things when they happen like this. When you take responsibility, you can move on.” 

White’s former wife alleged that he pushed her and struck her once. She was granted a restraining order, but the Globe reported that there is no record that White was ever charged with any crime in the case. The paper also said that White denied the allegations in court filings. 

Apart from the police commissioner question, Janey was not pressed hard on issues, and generally skirted direct answers to the handful of potentially tougher questions to come her way during the 50-minute appearance on the public radio call-in show. 

She offered no clear stand on maintaining the city’s appointed school committee, returning to an elected body, or adopting a hybrid structure that combines the two. 

“I have seen first hand how that body works and some of the challenges there, and that parents wonder if their voices are being heard,” Janey said. The question of how members are selected, she said, “is something that we can look at in the future.”  

Even on a more immediate question that she would appear to have some sway over as acting mayor — whether to adopt early voting for the fall municipal election — Janey seemed reluctant to go too far. 

“Anything that we can do to make early voting happen in municipal elections — I am all for it,” she said. 

She didn’t offer specifics when Eagan asked about changes that should be made in the police department, though she hinted at an idea that has been implemented in other cities of having civilian service providers respond to certain kinds of calls. “There is a desire from police as well as my administration to reimagine how we respond to crisis,” Janey said. As with teachers, she said, we expect police to play too many roles. “We have to ask ourselves, is that appropriate?” she said.

Janey deflected a question asking whether she thought the Boston Planning and Development Agency needed reform. City Councilor Michelle Wu, one of six declared candidates for mayor, has made change in the city agency a major issue, releasing a detailed policy paper two years ago that called for a complete overhaul of the planning and development process. 

Janey, a Roxbury district city councilor who took over as acting mayor by virtue of her position as City Council president, announced on Tuesday that she will run for a full four-year term this fall. 

The looming election and the crowded field of candidates she joined didn’t come up in her radio appearance.