Judge allows appointment of former Boston police commander, 71, as interim Brockton chief

BROCKTON—The City of Champions has a new police chief, at least for the next two months.

Rebuffing a Brockton police union, a Plymouth County judge today allowed the city to appoint Robert Hayden, 71, a popular former commander with the Boston police who also led the Lawrence force, as interim chief in Brockton for a 60-day period, city officials said.

The next step is for the City Council to approve Hayden’s appointment as civilian commissioner of the Police Department, a process that could take several weeks.

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During a festive news conference at City Hall this afternoon—which dozens of state, local, and federal law enforcement officials attended—Hayden laid out a three-pronged attack for curbing crime in Brockton.

First, he said, his officers will be visiting between 50 and 100 of the city’s worst criminals “quite regularly” to let them know that police have them on their radar.

“It’ll be constitutional,” Hayden said, adding that the initiative would target “the bad guys, the real bad guys, the killers.”

He said he also plans to launch a motorcycle unit of about 10 officers to support the efforts of the patrol officers in cruisers, as well as partner with social services providers to reach out to younger siblings of suspects who are arrested.

Former Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn was among the speakers who praised Hayden during the news conference.

“Bobby Hayden is not a show horse, he’s a work horse,” Flynn said.

Boston police Superintendent in Chief William G. Gross was also in attendance and said of Hayden, “He’s one of the best bosses I’ve ever had.”

The union that represents some 30 commanding officers in the 200-member department had tried through a court action to keep Hayden out of headquarters, citing a state law that caps the age of a police chief at 65.

It is the same union whose members have historically been tapped to serve as chief before returning to their previous civil service ranks.

But in an interview after the news conference, Hayden said he does not believe the court action will hinder his relationship with the rank and file.

“I don’t feel like an outsider,” said Hayden, noting his decades of service in tough areas of Boston that face similar issues as Brockton. “Because an outsider, to me, would be from Podunk, North Carolina.”

He added that he understands the challenges that officers face.

Hayden also suffers from cancer, an issue that Mayor Bill Carpenter said he and Hayden discussed before Carpenter offered him the job of commissioner.

“I think he’s got one last round-up left in him,’’ Carpenter told the Globe earlier this week. “Has he got health issues? Yes. But his doctors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have signed off on him doing the job, and his wife has also approved.”