When Cox started here in September 2019, he was Ann Arbor’s fifth police chief in ten years. He told the Observer that he wanted to break the short-term pattern: “I hope to work for ten more years, hopefully, if they’ll have me.”
But after serving thirty-three years with the Boston Police Department, Cox didn’t make three here. His last day was July 31, and he’s already started his new job as Boston’s police commissioner.
“It’s kind of the same job I have now,” he laughs. “It’s just a much bigger city.” He’s gone from heading a force of 122 sworn officers to one with 2,144.
When Cox started in Ann Arbor, council charged him with expanding the department’s community policing efforts. He says they’ve “done a decent job” of it, but the pandemic “had a tremendous impact on the progress of what we were trying to do.” And then came the massive public protests after George Floyd’s killing by police. “This public outcry really against police and policing in general … made it very difficult,” he says.
Cox says his officers are “doing the best they can” to engage the community, but “it’s never been more challenging than what’s going on today … There’s just a lot of angst out there.”
Though the Boston Globe quoted anonymous sources saying Cox suffered from a lack of support from his staff and city council, he says his departure is “not about city council or anybody else.” Mayor Christopher Taylor says he’s sorry to see Cox go but “I certainly understand the draw of home and increased responsibility for a larger department.”
Cox says he’d tell Ann Arbor’s next police chief “they’re the luckiest person in the world. This is a tremendous city. It’s a tremendous department [with] a lot of very young officers that want to be here, want to do what you ask them to do …
“Just make sure that they’re supported and loved and make sure that the outside folks, whether it’s city council or the citizens here, understand what it is we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it.”
While conducting a nationwide search for a successor, city administrator Milton Dohoney Jr. appointed deputy chief Aimee Metzer as interim chief. Metzer was aiming for law at U-M when she was robbed while working as a bank teller, and the AAPD detective assigned to the case told her she’d make a good cop. Then-deputy chief Sherry Woods sponsored her at the police academy in 1999, and Metzer’s been with the department ever since.
She calls the AAPD “a great place to work as a woman,” and says it’s “very humbling” to be its first female interim chief. “I just want a hundred percent what’s best for this community and what’s best for the department,” she says.
Metzer says she has a “good relationship” with Dohoney. “You never have to wonder how he feels or what he feels about how you’re performing—because he’s just gonna tell you!”
Is she willing to be considered for the permanent job? Replies Metzer: “I always say, ‘Never say never!’”