William Gross is sad, but he is also looking forward to Saturday. For the first time in nearly 38 years, he will wake up as a civilian after retiring as commissioner of the Boston Police Department.
"Of course, it is emotional," Gross said Friday. "There is a lot of tears shed, stories, and it is tough, very tough, very emotional," Gross said Friday.
Gross announced this week that he is retiring, adding that it was always his plan to leave if Mayor Marty Walsh left. President Joe Biden has nominated Walsh to be his labor secretary.
"My family is thrilled," he said. "They are so happy."
In a wide-ranging interview on his last day at work, Gross said the hardest part was talking the families who just lost a loved one.
"Those are some of the toughest moments of my career," Gross said. "It is horrible when you are looking into a parent's eyes, 'Is my child dead?' OK. I am not going to lie, but this is the response: 'It never hurts to pray.'"
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Gross also touched on criticism he received last year after meeting with then U.S. Attorney General William Barr at the Boston Police Department's headquarters.
"You want to know what I did that day? I educated the attorney general about what we are doing here in Boston," he said. "I was showing Boston is not afraid to talk to anyone, as some of the politicians who know me, and spoke out against me, without allowing me to contextualize or quantify that meeting, didn't even have respect enough to give me a call? I bragged about them, too."
Gross added the criticism at the time didn't bother him, but fueled him.
"I tell you what, I'm a Black man in the 21st century. I don't need overseers of the 21st century, I don't need anyone to tell me, 'I only want you to talk to someone if I like them, and listen boy, you only talk when I want you to talk,'" he said. "Hell no!"
Gross says he has no desire to lead another police department. He plans to finish up some training classes and spend time with his family.
"Yes, you will see me as a civilian. I can say what I want. I kind of do now," Gross said with a chuckle.