By Dave Wedge, Laurel J. Sweet and Erin Smith
BOSTON — Mayor Thomas M. Men-ino has cleared the way for his successor to pick a new police commissioner, pledging cooperation with the next mayor in the wake of his top cop's resignation.
Longtime Boston police Commissioner Edward F. Davis — whose steady leadership during the Boston Marathon bombings has made him a hot prospect in Washington — is stepping down today, opening up another key position for the next mayor to fill.
"Mayor Menino thanks Commissioner Davis for his tremendous work over the past seven years and will work with him to make sure there is a smooth transition as a new mayor comes into office to find their own full-time replacement for police commissioner," Menino spokeswoman Dot Joyce said.
Davis, who is planning a 10 a.m. press conference today, told the Herald last night: "It's true, I am leaving. ... I wanted to stay through the summer and I did that, but now it's time to go, time, I feel, to move on. I don't want to talk about any details. I will say more about that at a press conference."
The departure gives the as-yet unelected next mayor of Boston two critical, high-level posts — School Superintendent Carol R. Johnson already has resigned, and Menino has left the post vacant.
A former Lowell beat cop hired by Menino in 2006, Davis will leave the department within 30 to 60 days, officials said. He will take a teaching post at Harvard College, but is still in the mix for the top homeland security post under President Obama and is exploring other potential opportunities, sources said.
His popularity soared after the deadly April 15 bombings, during which he won national praise for steering the city through one of its darkest hours. He also was hailed for his congressional testimony, during which he criticized the feds for failing to share information.
A recent Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll showed his popularity at 73 percent saying the next mayor should keep him.
But former state Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie, who is running for mayor, said she would seek to hire a commissioner focused on increasing the number of cops walking the beat as well as one dedicated to increasing diversity in the Boston Police Department.
Davis has long been criticized for failing to increase the number of minority brass in the BPD.
"I would look forward to bringing in a commissioner who shares my vision of community policing," Golar Richie said. "And we need a department that reflects the diversity of the city."
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, who is also running for mayor and has worked closely with Davis, said he'd hire someone who would build on Davis' strengths.
"Ed has been an outstanding police commissioner. He's a man of integrity," Conley said.
"The bar is very high. There's going to be a big void when Ed leaves," Conley said.
John R. Connolly, front-runner in the race for mayor, said only, "I thank Ed Davis for his service ... and I wish him the very best for the future."
Mayoral contender Bill Walczak, who has criticized Menino for making momentous decisions on his way out the door, pressed the mayor not to do that in this case. "I urge Mayor Menino to appoint an interim police commissioner so that his successor can fill the position permanently."
Though Davis has clashed with the feds, he drew high praise from them yesterday.
"Clone him," Boston FBI special agent-in-charge Vincent Lisi said.
"All great leaders set the tone for their organization and that's what he has done."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 the Boston Herald