Rep. Birmingham spoke in favor of setting up a three-person panel to appoint Boston’s police commissioner, the American reported on April 7, 1930 (James Michael Curley Scrapbooks, Vol. 21, p. 89).
“The appointing power, now lodged with the governor, should be vested in a three-headed commission, one of whom should be named by the mayor, one by the chief justice of the municipal court, and the third selected by the first two. I believe there would be no difficulty in selecting the third member,” he said.
Birmingham noted that the Boston electorate had chosen a similar arrangement when it rejected having the mayor appointment all of the members of the Boston School House Commission. “The people of Boston at the last election had the choice of retaining the old school house commission, whose members were appointed by the mayor, or creating a new commission of three, one to be appointed by the mayor, one by the school committee, and in the event that these two could not agree on a selection, the third to be named by the governor,” he said.
“The people chose the latter system and thereby established a principle which I believe should be extended to the police commissioner,” he said.
“I claim that the police commissioner, under the present system of appointment, is responsible to no one. Although graft and corruption have been brought to the attention of the Republican governors time and again, the condition was allowed to continue. Only through local control of the police department can we get a responsive system,” he concluded.