A Bostonian through and through, Greg Henning a prosecutor and mentor in the community he has served for over 12 years is stepping up and running for the office of District Attorney.
For 10 years, Henning has worked as an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County DA’s office, prosecuting a variety of cases ranging from low-level misdemeanors to murders.
He is running for a seat that is being vacated by District Attorney Dan Conley, who surprised many this past February when he said that he would not run again, opening a seat for the county-wide office that covers Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop. The District Attorney is the chief law enforcer for this area and is in charge of prosecuting and investigating crimes throughout the county.
“When the District Attorney announced he wasn’t going to run for re-election I wanted to make sure – as a Suffolk County resident and as a prosecutor and somebody who has been devoted to the county for my entire professional career – that the person and the people running the office knew how to do it and balance public safety and working with the community,” said Henning.
After working in the District Attorney’s office for 10 years, Henning said there are a lot of improvements he would like see.
One includes making record keeping systems more efficient.
“We need to do a better job at tracking data and seeing outcomes,” he said.
In 2008, Henning was appointed to the head of the Gun Prosecution Task Force. In 2016, he was named Supervisor of the Gang Unit, heading a team of attorneys focused on shootings and other violent crimes in Suffolk County.
When he was running the Gang Unit, Henning’s worked closely with defense attorneys and law enforcement officials on finding individuals who should be given an opportunity for a second chance, even if they are facing significant incarceration.
Henning’s would like to formalize that process and develop guidelines on how to use and work with community organizations to ensure individuals who are deserving of a second chance and who can turn things around after making a bad decision can do so.
Another goal Henning’s has is to help start and then broaden the District Attorney’s office to focus on unsolved shootings in the city, particularly non-fatal unsolved shootings. Homicides, he said, get a lot of attention but many times a gun is shot and no one is ever held responsible for it.
“When there is a shooting where someone is hit and not killed or firearms are discharged in a community and no one is actually hit – those have a tremendous effect on people’s livelihood and their well being,” said Henning. “If you are a parent and you have to tell your kid to duck when you hear the sound of gun shots, even if no one is hit by that bullet it has a huge impact on your quality of life. That is a focus of mine and will continue to be a focus of mine.”
Beginning in 2009, Henning started volunteering, coaching, and tutoring at College Bound Dorchester.
“One of the individuals we prosecuted under my supervision ended up being on a basketball team that I coached,” said Henning. “Through that experience I started working more closely with guys on the team who had criminal backgrounds and also people who I have prosecuted or was prosecuting at the time.”
Following that experience he left the DA’s office in 2011 to become a teacher at Boston Preparatory Charter Public School in Hyde Park, teaching eighth grade English and twelfth grade constitutional law to over 100 students.
“I wanted to see if there was a way to have a better impact on the young men I was working with and I thought why not try doing it in the classroom,” said Henning.
He continued to be a part of their lives even after returning to the DA’s office in 2013.
Through his mentoring, Henning visits correctional facilities throughout Massachusetts, where he visits former defendants and assists them with the transition to life after their release.
“After teaching and I came back for my second shift at the DA’s office, I had a different perspective and was more cognizant of the work that we do and how it impacts the people we prosecute and their families and the community,” said Henning.
Henning graduated from Harvard in 2002 with a degree in Government, then received his juris doctorate in 2005 from the University of Virginia School of Law. He completed a clerkship for the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Macon, Georgia, before returning to Boston to begin working as an assistant district attorney in 2006.
He currently lives in Dorchester with his girlfriend, who is a special education teacher in Boston.