William B. Evans Friday ended his duties where they all began — the Area C-11 station in Dorchester, a red brick redoubt for the Boston Police Department where the former commissioner began in law enforcement 38 years ago.
Evans, 59, made his-next-to last appearance as the city’s top cop at the Friday morning roll call inside the station where he was employed as a cadet, the first stepping stone in a career that eventually included every civil service rank before he took on the top civilian job nearly five years ago.
Evans delivered two messages during his brief remarks to some two dozen uniformed and plainclothes officers, many of whom, he laughingly noted, were younger than the nearly four decades he carried a police badge and a gun.
Thank you, he told them.
“We had the whole Black Lives Matter, you know, anti-police dialogue out there and no one ever missed a beat in this department,’’ he said. “I didn’t do a great job. The men and the women of this department did.”
And take care of yourselves.
“Be safe. Make sure you wear your vests,’’ he said. “There are a lot of guns out there.”
Evans told the officers that they should expect to wear body cameras, pointing to the results of a yearlong pilot program where 100 officers wore the cameras, resulting in a reduction in the number of complaints that an officer used excessive force and internal affair complaints.
And, once a critic of the cameras being worn by police, Evans said he is now a supporter, especially since he said the video evidence showed the use of deadly force against a terrorist suspect in Roslindale in 2015 was justified. (The estate of Usaa ma Rahim is suing in federal court.)
“There are a lot of young people here. You know technology,’’ he told the officers. “It will help us, believe me. Whether it helps us in court [as evidence], whether it helps us defuse civilian complaints. We can use the pictures for gang investigations.”
Evans is done as commissioner, he happily noted after the roll call. No longer will he hope that weekends are drenched with rain in the summer or blanketed with snow in the winter, an acknowledgment that inclement weather is often more successful bringing peace than police.
“I can honestly say for five years, I hoped it rained and snowed every day to keep the violence down,” he told reporters after the roll call.
No longer will he arrive at the scene of a homicide somewhere in the city, day or night, and see, once again, that a child has been killed, often by another child, he said. “I won’t miss witnessing some of the violence on the street,’’ he said. “That’s what kept me awake at nights.”
But, he said, he will always remember the Boston Marathon bombing of April 2013, in which three people were killed and more than 260 injured near the finish line, images that Evans still carries with him. And he will, with equal vigor, remember the night in Watertown five days later when a terrorist suspect was captured, leading to an impromptu, patriotic-themed celebration on the streets of that city.
“It was like we had just won the war,’’ he said. “People were out on the street clapping. College kids were marching. I never had such a good feeling in my life . . . I will never forget those five days.”
Evans spoke at a city Boys and Girls Club later Friday morning and then called an end to his Boston police career. He has already surrendered his badge, radio equipment, and department-issued pistol, which, he has proudly noted he never had cause to fire during his entire career.
Evans starts Monday at Boston College as the school’s new executive director of public safety and chief of police.
But first, the longtime marathon runner is hoping for nice weather this weekend, which he plans to spend in Maine running the Beach to Beacon 10K accompanied by some of his three children.
“I can honestly say I worked my heart and soul out,’’ he said. “It’s been my honor to lead it.”
Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.