The architect of neighborhood policing, O’Neill came into the role vowing to improve police-community relations through the expansion of Neighborhood Coordination Officers to every precinct.
While his time as the top cop was filled with controversies, from the trial and firing of Daniel Pantaleo to rising officer suicides to the latest officer-involved brawl at Jay Street-MetroTech, O’Neill placed an emphasis on rebuilding the department’s trust with communities that have been scarred by stop-and-frisk and police abuse.
While his record was not perfect, O’Neill deserves the gratitude of New Yorkers for his service.
The incoming police commissioner, current Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, will need to have a similar focus on rebuilding the public’s trust in the NYPD.
Shea, who grew up in Sunnyside and began as a police officer in 1991, rose up through the ranks, including stints as commander of two precincts in the Bronx.
As chief of detectives, Shea oversaw the department’s investigatory operations, including all criminal probes.
De Blasio has stated that Shea’s goal will be to target gang-related violence and take guns off the streets while continuing to reduce crime. Shea has also committed to building on neighborhood policing.
While removing guns from the streets is a laudable mission, the NYPD’s gang database has long been called into question by reformers and advocates, something Shea will have to address moving forward.
The incoming commissioner should also take another look at retooling the Special Victims Division, which he oversaw as chief of detectives, to better handle the rise in rape and sexual assault cases.
These actions will be necessary if Shea wants to create a more unified relationship among community, advocates and police officers. We hope he succeeds, all while keeping New York the safest big city in America.