Cambridge police Deputy Superintendent Chris Burke

Cambridge police Deputy Superintendent Chris Burke will be acting chief, it was announced Thursday at City Hall. (Photo: John Hawkinson)

Retiring Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas has begun handing off responsibilities, with Deputy Superintendent Chris Burke named Thursday at a city budget hearing as interim commissioner for the city.

The appointment takes effect Monday, City Manager Richard C. Rossi says in a letter to be read at that day’s City Council meeting.

As acting commissioner, Burke would oversee a 319-person department with an annual budget of $51 million that responds to some 110,000 calls for service in a year. The department’s most recent published annual report says the force has 37 marked patrol vehicles, 35 unmarked, 14 motorcycles and 22 bicycles – as well as more than a dozen “tactical” vehicles aiding the most serious work of the police in a major city: the bomb squad, Special Response Team, Tactical Patrol Force and Crisis Negotiations Team.

Burke has been with Cambridge Police since joining as an officer in 1984, “following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather,” Rossi said. He was promoted to sergeant in 1997, lieutenant in 2001, deputy superintendent in 2006 and superintendent in 2009, and has served in a variety of roles in the department, including overseeing the Professional Standards unit and as liaison to boards and commissions, including the Police Review and Advisory Board and LGBT Commission. He has already served several times in Haas’ stead as one-third of the city’s License Commission. In 2014, Burke received the city’s award for Outstanding City of Cambridge Employee.

“Having grown up in Cambridge, superintendent Burke brings a valuable perspective on how public safety and community policing affects our neighborhoods. He is a dedicated, compassionate professional who displays a tremendous commitment to the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Police Department,” Rossi said.

Haas is retiring after nine years leading the force.


John Hawkinson contributed reporting to this article. It was updated May 7, 2016, with additional biographical information and comment by the city manager.