The NYPD Chief of Department James P. O’Neill will replace Bill Bratton as NYPD commissioner after Bratton resigns from the post in September.
O’Neill has served in the NYPD for more than 30 years, which was an accolade confirmed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in the Tuesday press conference.
O’Neill was appointed to the New York City Transit Police Department in January 1983 to work as a patrolman, according to NYPD’s official page. He was then promoted to sergeant approximately four years later, and sergeant special assignment four years after that.
O’Neill then served under several official titles and was given broader jurisdictions across the city. His most recent positions were chief of patrol, in which he led a whole bureau of officers, and chief of department, which is the highest-ranking uniformed officer.
O’Neill is known for implementing “community” or “neighborhood policing” — a strategy that was a consistent theme throughout the press conference. In this initiative, officers are assigned to certain precincts and ordered to mesh with the community on a personal level. The goal is to foster trust between the residents of the communities and the officers by blurring the distinctive line between the two spheres of civil life.
During the press conference, O’Neill credited neighborhood policing with “lowering crime, but not at the expense of losing the vital support of the people we are sworn to protect and serve.” O’Neill says the department needs to evolve and adapt to changing trends in order to proactively address crime.
O’Neill used the neighborhood policing tactic throughout the precincts he headed and de Blasio says this strategy is critical reason for appointing O’Neill as Bratton’s replacement.
De Blasio was sure to say that “quality of life” policing, similar to “zero tolerance” or “broken windows,” will still be utilized. Quality of life policing is the idea that by heavily enforcing relatively more innocuous laws, like public urination and littering, will lead to increased respect for more serious laws. These comments come only weeks after de Blasio signed a bill decreasing punishment for lower-level offenses.
De Blasio noted that under O’Neill’s leadership, an amalgamation of neighborhood policing and quality of life policing will be employed. During the press conference, de Blasio stressed that combining these two policies was a novel idea since the NYPD has “never implemented all of these features at once.”
During the conference, it was revealed that Bratton notified De Blasio of his decision to step down in early July. Around that time, De Blasio was asked if Bratton was going to resign, but the mayor pooh-poohed the allegations because “when it’s other people’s lives” he wanted to keep their personal details secure.
Bratton’s tenure was recently littered with controversies — from protests of police brutality Monday, to dubious ethical actions as commissioner. Even the NYPD sergeants’ union head called for Bratton to step down earlier in 2016.
Bratton expressed that his resignation is not a benevolent replacement for a firing.
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