Dermot Shea is the new New York Police Department commissioner after being promoted by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio when current NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill resigned in early November. Shea has worked for the NYPD since becoming a police officer in 1991. A native of Queens, New York, Shea will take office on Dec. 1.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Dermot Shea Currently Serves As the NYPD’s Chief of Detectives
Dermot Shea became a police officer with the New York Police Department in 1991 when the city had more than 2,000 murders that year, according to the New York City Mayor’s Office. Since then he has served as precinct commander of the 44th and 50th precincts in the Bronx and Chief of Crime Control Strategies and Deputy Commissioner for Operations. In 2018, he was promoted to Chief of Detectives, where he oversaw all criminal investigations in the city. In that position, he also helped overhaul the Special Victims Division.
“Dermot Shea is a proven change agent, using precision policing to fight crime and build trust between police and communities. As Chief of Crime Control Strategies and then Chief of Detectives, Dermot was one of the chief architects of the approach that has made New York City the safest big city in America. Dermot is uniquely qualified to serve as our next police commissioner and drive down crime rates even further,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press release.
Shea earned a Bachelor of Science from SUNY Oneonta in New York. He and his wife Serena live in Manhattan and have three children, Jackie, Lauren and Richie, a grandson, Aiden, and a dog named Miley.
2. Dermot Shea Replaces NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill Who Resigned Amid Growing Police Tensions in New York City
James O’Neill was sworn in as NYPD Commissioner in 2016 and has faced criticism from criminal justice reformers who say he is too tough on New Yorkers who commit minor offenses and isn’t doing enough to punish police brutality. The New York City police union has criticized O’Neill for firing Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer involved in the high-profile death of Eric Garner.
After Pantaleo was fired earlier this year, Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said morale among the NYPD is low because “the leadership of this city and the police department is absolutely afraid of the criminal advocates.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised O’Neill as he accepted his resignation during a press conference at City Hall.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want to express deep gratitude to Jimmy O’Neill for dedicating his entire career to keeping our city safe. Jimmy transformed the relationship between New Yorkers and police, and helped to make the Department the most sophisticated and advanced in the country,” de Blasio said.
O’Neill said Shea is the right man to take over the city’s top position at the police department.
“Dermot Shea has exactly the experience and skill to continue to drive down crime, strengthen relationships with the community members we serve and make sure every neighborhood has the safety they deserve,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in making his resignation earlier this month. “We cannot take the historic crime reductions in New York City for granted, and Dermot’s understanding of the complex issues that lead to crime and disorder, as well as the most effective strategies for addressing these issues, is as good as it gets in policing today.”
3. Critics Have Blasted the NYPD for Not Hiring a Person of Color for the Job
When it was announced that Dermot Shea would replace NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, many people took to Twitter to complain about a continuing lack of diversity among the top positions in the New York Police Department.
New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, a Democrat who represents District 39 in Queens tweeted her disappointment in the choice of Shea.
And IrishCentral pointed out that Shea is the fourth Irish American in a row to serve as police commissioner of New York City.
4. Dermot Shea Takes Over At a Time When Anti-Police Tensions Are High in New York City
There has been a growing number of anti-police protests across New York City in recents months and many police advocates blame Mayor Bill de Blasio for not doing enough to support the police officers who crack down on violence.
“Cops are hesitant — they’re second guessing themselves,” Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins told The New York Post. “These anti-police protests are growing,” he said, but “cops don’t want to engage. Because they fear that if it goes bad, the NYPD is not going to back them.”
“The challenges facing the NYPD are enormous, but so are the opportunities. We look forward to working with Commissioner Shea to combat the current anti-police atmosphere and make positive changes that will improve the lives of our police officers and every New Yorker we protect,” New York City Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said in a statement.
5. President Donald Trump Has Publicly Criticized the New York Police Department
President Donald Trump, who is a lifelong New Yorker, recently announced that he was changing his permanent address from New York to Florida. He’s been a vocal critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio and his leadership of the police department. When he announced he was leaving the city, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted “Good Riddance.”
This summer when NYPD officers were doused with water during a heat wave, he blasted the mayor for not being tough enough on crime, calling the actions “a total disgrace” to law enforcement.