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O'Toole shuffles Boston police commanders
By Laurel J. Sweet, Michele McPhee and Tom Farmer
Friday, February 11, 2005

The Boston cop who endured a brutal beating at the hands of fellow officers who mistook him for a fleeing shooting suspect a decade ago is being promoted to deputy superintendent today.

Sgt. Detective Michael Cox, 39, becomes a deputy within the Bureau of Investigative Services amid the second command shakeup in police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole's first year on the job.

No one was ever charged with beating Cox, a plainclothes officer left unconscious and bloodied near a Mattapan fence during a late night pursuit of two gunmen in January 1995. He spent six months recovering, sued the city and won and declines to discuss the matter.

``I was so struck by his perseverance and his dignity,'' said O'Toole, who met with Cox for an hour to discuss the promotion that takes affect tomorrow. ``Hopefully this is an opportunity for him to put that tragic chapter in his life behind him.''

O'Toole's long-rumored shuffling of the command staff is not without controversy. Superintendent James M. Claiborne, once in the running for O'Toole's job, is being reassigned from head of the rank-and-file to chief of professional development in charge of training, a move viewed as ``a slap on both cheeks,'' according to officer Angela Williams-Mitchell, president of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers.

``This is a shocker,'' railed Williams-Mitchell, who plans a letter-writing campaign asking O'Toole to reconsider. ``To take Superintendent Claiborne from the most influential bureau in the department and transfer him to what is the least influential says the department does not respect minorities in key positions.''

``(Claiborne) has not been demoted in any way,'' O'Toole said. ``I want him to champion this very important change agenda I have. We need to attract a very qualified and diverse field of candidates.''

Claiborne, who is black, could not be reached for comment. He is succeeded by Superintendent Robert Dunford, 60, who is white and whose attention to detail is credited with keeping the peace at last summer's Democratic National Convention. Dunford will be assisted by Deputy Superintendent Robert O'Toole, 59, whose SWAT team remains under fire for the accidental death last October of Red Sox fan Victoria Snelgrove.

``I've made it very clear that he's on administrative assignment pending the outcome of the Snelgrove investigation,'' the commissioner said.

District C-11 Capt. Thomas Lee, 46, replaces Robert O'Toole as deputy superintendent of special operations.

District C-11 Lt. Kenneth Fong, 38, was named deputy superintendent of operations, making him the first Asian in the department's history to hold a command-staff rank.

Also promoted were department spokesman Lt. Kevin Foley, to deputy superintendent of labor relations; Sgt. Darrin Greeley, to deputy superintendent of field services; Capt. Francis Armstrong, to command District C-11.
 

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Newly promoted special ops boss focuses on morale
By Franci Richardson
Saturday, February 12, 2005

As newly promoted Boston police deputy superintendent, Thomas F. Lee feels his first job in special operations is to rebuild morale after the shooting death of a college student by an officer who fired what was believed to be a nonlethal weapon.

``My challenge is to build morale,'' Lee said yesterday after he and 10 colleagues were sworn in during a cememony at Boston police headquarters.

Lee replaces Deputy Superintendent Robert O'Toole, who is on administrative assignment pending the outcome of the investigation into Victoria Snelgrove's death last fall during a riot after the Red Sox victory over the New York Yankees.

Morale in the special operations division has slumped, Lee said, since an officer shot a pepper-spray pellet into Snelgrove's eye, killing her.

Yesterday's ceremony followed a shakeup of top-ranking officials announced this week by Boston police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole, who denied that any of her staff appointments were punishment.

``Nobody was demoted,'' she said.

Once a contender for the commissioner's post, Superintendent James M. Claiborne was made chief of the Boston Police Academy. He did not attend yesterday's ceremony.

``That's absolutely wrong,'' O'Toole said of the public sentiment that Claiborne's move was a demotion. ``He's maintained the same rank, and I'm assigning him to some of the most important issues on my agenda.''

Superintendent Robert Dunford took Claiborne's old position heading the Bureau of Field Services. His priority is to ``merge homeland security with community policing.''

Sgt. Michael A. Cox was promoted to deputy superintendent at the Bureau of Investigative Services.

Having suffered a beating at the hands of fellow officers in 1995 in a case of mistaken identity, he said he hopes the appointment is on his own merit.

``It was traumatic for me and my family, but I'd like to think that ability and who I am as a person has something to do with it,'' he said.
 
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