The MBTA’s new police chief pledged to treat riders with “dignity and respect” Wednesday at his swearing-in ceremony.
“We will be transparent, accountable and responsible to those we have taken on to serve,” said Kenneth Green, newly installed to lead the Transit Police force after more than a year in the role on an interim basis. “Whether you live on Humboldt Street in Waltham or Humboldt Avenue in Roxbury, Transit Police officers will treat you with dignity and respect.”
Green, a Lynn native and 24-year veteran of the force, was selected from a crop of 65 applicants for the department’s top job, T officials said. The T announced its selection in October. The agency previously picked Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan for the position, but Ryan backed out, citing personal reasons.
In a speech, Green said the department has “numerous and daunting” challenges ahead, among them the “inhumane, deadly threat” of terrorism.
Green also said he wanted to roll out a new “patrol plan” for the department.
“I believe we’ll have a greater uniform presence on the system, deliver more effective, efficient police services and have the safest system possible for all who utilize and enjoy it,” he said of the plan, without offering specifics.
Green, who is black, said he grew up in what was “back then labeled a broken home” in public housing. After attending Boston University on a football scholarship, he went on to serve in the Winchester Police Department, then climb the ranks with the Transit Police.
In a speech, Gov. Charlie Baker called Green’s story “uniquely American” and said he was pleased to see someone in the top spot with long-term knowledge of the department, “warts and all.”
Green comes to the role after a push to make the force more diverse that included calls to hire him from the NAACP, black clergy and lawmakers, as the Boston Globe reported in October.
Darnell Williams, president of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, said he was confident Green could help build trust between officers and T riders of color.
“There have been some issues with the MBTA and community members, but I think under his watch I can see that changing for the better,” Williams told Metro.
In his now-permanent role, Green is poised to oversee a department facing the possibility of belt-tightening amid a budget deficit at the MBTA. T officials have said they are not considering layoffs.
In an interview, Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said he supported Green, and praised the department for its role helping make convictions. He also called for spending on adding more and better-quality cameras at T stops and urged the T to keep transit police in mind in budget talks.
“The T has almost what appears to be insurmountable financial pressures, but if the T system is not safe then riders won’t ride,” Conley told Metro. “One of the first priorities, I think, of the system has to be a safe rider experience.”