Thirty-year NYPD veteran Dermot Shea was sworn in as the 44th Police Commissioner by Mayor Bill de Blasio this morning, and the new top cop promised to ensure that cops and the communities they serve are treated with respect.
Shea doubled-down on neighborhood policing, saying he will insist on officers and their commanders to “build relationships with the community and their residents.”
Shea was accompanied at the swearing-in by his wife Sarena of 28-years, five children and his 3-year-old grandchild Aiden who was sitting on his daughter Jackie’s lap in the front row. His mother Ellen, who immigrated from Ireland with his father in the 1950’s, was also in present to cheer on her son and said “we are very proud of him.”
Also in attendance was former Police Commissioners Bill Bratton and Ray Kelly. Shea’s former boss, James O’Neill started his new job at Visa today and couldn’t attend. O’Neill served the NYPD for 36-years.
Commanders from throughout the city were also on hand as were several elected officials including the Queens District Attorney-elect Melinda Katz, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
De Blasio said he has watched Shea, the former Chief of Detectives, for 18 months and called him “the right man for the job.”
“You see a man who believes we can go much farther, not just a little bit – we can go much farther,” de Blasio said. “Someone who has such inherent faith in this department and the men and women who make it great, but also has a belief in our people and a love for the people of this city. When he grills a colleague, it’s not out of anger, it’s out of hope that we can get even better. When he puts an idea out that no one’s thought about before or been willing to say out loud, it’s because he’s not afraid to dream. It’s a rarity that you get to watch someone for six years through thick and thin deal with every kind of scenario. But what I saw was a man who was always ready to innovate, always ready to hope, and I saw the inspirational impact that he had on others.”
Shea said he believes they can make “the city even safer.” He recalled when he started in the department, and the city was “plagued by crime.”
“New York was a very different, much more violent place back then,” Commissioner Shea recalled. “The year I joined the NYPD, it was between 2,100 and 2,200 homicides just that year, think of that. Last year, there were 295 homicides, and it was [kept low] because of the work of the men and women of this great department. Burned out buildings, garbage-strewn streets, vacant lots have now been replaced by parks and condominiums. And while the city has been absolutely transformed and policing too has changed in many respects, there are some constants that are as true today as they were 29 years ago.”
Shea said the NYPD has demonstrated that they can keep crime down significantly with a “far less intrusive enforcement profile.” He pointed out that as they push crime down, they have also been able to reduce summonses, stops, arrests and cut down on the need for incarceration.
“We are building trust and strengthening relationships in every New York City community and more to do,” Shea said. “Neighborhood policing and precision policing are seamlessly blended together and serve, I believe as a model of American policing and proof that, yes, you can have it all.”
While the department is taking a gentler tone in the community with a less intrusive posture, he warned “our common adversary are those who commit crime and violence. Don’t mistake our kindness for weakness.”
He also condemned attacks on police and said they would not be tolerated.
“An attack on a single officer is an attack on society as a whole,” he said. “It should and must be denounced by all New Yorkers, especially those in leadership positions. It’s as simple as this. Every person we see deserves respect, every cop must be respected too if they are to do their very dangerous job correctly.”