Since we originally posted this article, Chief Cox has accepted the position of Police Commissioner in his home town of Boston, Massachusetts. We wish Commissioner Cox all the best in his new role, and thank him for his exceptional contributions to our community.
The Washtenaw 100: Chief Cox, you had a very successful career in Boston. What attracted you to Ann Arbor?
Chief Cox: Our family had visited over the years, and then, of course, when Michael Jr. was playing football at U of M, we came here to cheer on the team at the games. Go Blue! We knew it was a wonderful town and had so many exciting things going on in the business community and the University. When the job opening came up for Chief, we knew it would be a great place to be part of. Also, in Boston, I had served in a 3,000-officer department, and I thought I would enjoy working with a smaller team of some 150 officers in Ann Arbor.
The Washtenaw 100: Since you arrived in 2019, what Ann Arbor PD initiatives have you been especially excited about?
Chief Cox: First and foremost, we’re very focused on community engagement. History has shown us that the stronger the relationship is between the community and the police, the safer the neighborhood. Building trust and having clear communication are very important in developing stronger relationships.
The Department has multiple initiatives to achieve this goal. The Community Partnership and Outreach Team, formerly The Neighborhood Watch, is focused on getting the community involved in their own neighborhoods. Local community group meetings help introduce officers to the communities they serve. These meetings provide a place where both officers and community members can discuss their concerns with each other. When officers better understand the community’s concerns, they’re better able to address those concerns.
Of course, Safety Town is a long-standing Ann Arbor tradition for elementary age children and a new favorite of mine. It’s such a fun way to get the youngest members of the community involved. It has an atmosphere like a summer camp, and it teaches elementary age children how to stay safe, including Stranger Danger safety and bike safety.
There’s also our first-ever Blaze and Blue Summer Camp for young women 13 to 18 years old. The camp provides a taste of what it’s like to work as a police officer or firefighter, and it hopefully gets the campers interested in a career in public safety.
The Washtenaw 100: If you could communicate only one key message to the general community, what would it be?
Chief Cox: We’re here to help and to serve. I don’t want the community to feel they can’t call on us for help. Communication between the community and the police will help both understand each other better and will lead to a better community. We want the public to be a partner in educating the Police Department on community issues so we can help solve these problems.
The Washtenaw 100: In what way has The Washtenaw 100 supported your Department in moving forward?
Chief Cox: By literally moving us forward with two electric bikes! The Washtenaw 100 has made a generous donation to help our officers get closer to the community right out there on the streets with these bikes. The officers love them! Especially during summertime in Ann Arbor, these bikes are at the forefront of policing. Bikes go a long way in building a friendly relationship between the police and the community. They help the police be more visible and approachable in the community. You know, on bikes you’re not separated from the public by car windows or doors. The electric assist also keeps the officers a little more energized (pardon the pun!) during an eight-to12-hour bike shift. We’re so grateful to The Washtenaw 100 for providing two of our fleet of six electric bikes.
The Washtenaw 100: Any personal takeaways for our audience?
Chief Cox: I got into the police force early on because I wanted to give back and help keep people safe. That still motivates me every day. We all know it’s a very challenging time in policing, but I believe that there’s no better time to be a police officer because tremendous challenges also bring equally great opportunities. And with the support of proactive community groups like The Washtenaw 100, I think we’ll see great things ahead.
By the way I want to extend an invitation to The Washtenaw 100 members and anyone in the community to get in touch with me via my email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s set up a time to have a cup of coffee and chat.