Police Commissioner Bill Bratton resigned Tuesday, effective in September, as the current Chief of Department James O’Neill was named as his replacement.
The move comes amid low overall crime numbers, but also increasing criticism of the department, including an officer’s use of force with an assemblymember over the weekend.
“It’s now time for me to move on,” Bratton said. “This city, this department will have a seamless transition. I’ve tried to build a team … a team that shares a vision,” he added.
“I wish I had words for what this man has achieved,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in City Hall, flanked by both Bratton and O’Neill.
“We celebrate a transition filled with continuity,” the mayor added.
De Blasio said Bratton let him know his plans to retire on July 8.
“I’m leaving with reluctance,” Bratton said, adding that “I wish I had more time,” but he received an offer that he called exciting. “I’m leaving because it’s the right time.”
Bratton did not elaborate on the specifics of the offer.
“We had a heart to heart, very personal discussion about life and family,” the mayor said, adding they talked about the “development of a team, the development of a deep bench.”
De Blasio said Bratton’s decision had 110% nothing to do with the controversy or scandal surrounding the department.
“We knew the day would come and there would be many many talented people ready in this department to move up,” de Blasio said.
The mayor spoke of Bratton’s history with the NYPD and all he has done for the city, both when he first served as commissioner in the 1990s and his most recent stint.
“I’m happy for the future and happy for your future,” he added, speaking to Bratton. “We remember what the city used to be like, a lot of of us lived it … we’ve come a long way, much more to be done.”
But de Blasio said O’Neill is one of the best prepared to take over, adding he is the person to see the vision of community policing through.
“He is ready to take this department where it’s never been before,” he said. “This is the man who will achieve it and that is very good news for the people of New York City.
“I know this is a job for a strong man,” de Blasio added.
“It’s been an amazing 16 hours,” O’Neill said after being introduced, joking that he was “an old transit cop” and tearing up at the mention of his mother, who was sitting in the Blue Room.
“We’re here for you people of New York City,” he said. “This is truly a shared effort, shared responsibility.”
O’Neill said he will be trading in his uniform when he assumes the post of commissioner.
“I’m leaving the uniform behind. Unfortunately — I love it,” O’Neill said. “It’s time for bigger and better things.
O’Neill will be replaced as chief of department by Carlos Gomez, who is currently chief of patrol services.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo weighed in on Bratton’s resignation. “I was surprised and sad frankly, I’ve know him a long time he is a great, great public servant, great police commissioner and he brought credibility to the position as well as competence … He’s done a great job and people believed he did a great job and both of those are important,” Cuomo said.
The governor called former top cop Ray Kelly and Bratton “the Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig of police commissioners.”
Bratton first served as the commissioner in the 1990s under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, popularizing the “broken windows”-style of policing. He also served as the chief of police in Los Angeles and the commissioner of the Boston Police Department.
Late last month Bratton said he would not remain in his position past 2017, but made no specific mention of leaving sooner.
At the time, he said while “there is never a good time to leave,” he aimed to do so at a time that would “cause (as) minimum a disruption as possible.”