Dermot Shea sworn in as the NYPD’s new commissioner, vows to prevent bloodshed

by Editorial Team

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, sworn in Monday as the city’s top cop, vowed to do more to drive down violence in the city — and to guide kids “along the path to keep them out of the criminal justice system, ensuring they would never stumble down the wrong path.”

“I don’t want to see one more child killed,” Shea said after Mayor de Blasio administered the oath office during a packed ceremony at NYPD headquarters in Lower Manhattan. “I don’t want to see one more young person shot. I don’t want to see one more completely avoidable funeral. At the same time, I don’t want to see one more kid wander onto to the road of getting arrested, if we can do something better to keep him or her out of that situation.”

“If we can prevent those things. If we can live together in a city that provides safety for all, that keeps young people from ever being introduced to the criminal justice system, the feeding ground of crime will be uprooted,” he added. “We must do that now.”

The new commissioner, replacing James O’Neill, who left after three years to take a job with Visa, said he will soon unveil a department-wide strategy to help the kids avoid that first brush with the criminal justice system.

He will also have to fill several high-level posts, most notably, the Chief of Detectives spot he held before getting the top job.

Shea, technically sworn in on Saturday in a brief private ceremony, takes command of the nation’s largest police force at a critical time.

The department is reeling from a spate of officer suicides. The summer was marked by a series of street encounters in which cops were mocked, water and food tossed on them, attacks that Shea said must be denounced. A number of videos showed bystanders interfering as police tried to make arrests. And the City Council has continued to raise questions about a number of police initiatives, particularly in black and Latino neighborhood.s

Shea noted the “looming changes” ahead, a clear reference to the new criminal justice reforms that will eliminate bail for misdemeanors and some felonies, and require more evidence be turned over to the defense — and far quicker than it has been in the past.

But he said the NYPD would adapt.

And even though he engaged in a bit of nostalgia, noting fondly his time patrolling Ryer Ave. from 184th to 187th Sts. in the Bronx when he joined the force, he said the department can never rest on its laurels, especially as it continues to try to drive crime down.

“We must remain vigilant,” he said. “We must remember that we are the advocates for the victims, for the survivors, and we are the ones who must ensure that they are never left behind. We must also be responsive to residents at every opportunity, remembering that every single encounter, from a 311 call about a blocked driveway to a trip to the local precinct to report a crime, is an opportunity to strengthen neighborhood policing and how we deal with the public.”

During the ceremony, Shea thanked his family. His wife, Serena, sat on stage next to him ,while his three children and Irish-born mother, Ellen, sat in the first row.

He singled out three men “that I respect and to whom I owe a great deal” — O’Neill; O’Neill’s predecessor as commissioner, Bill Bratton, who was in the audience; “and my friend to my left, Ben Tucker.”

Shea patted Tucker, the First Deputy Police Commissioner, on the right shoulder and Tucker reached back with his right hand, shaking Shea’s left hand.

Tucker was believed to be in line to replace O’Neill, and later said he was disappointed he didn’t get the job.

The mayor, who has been criticized in some circles for not appointing Tucker, who is black, said to watch Shea work is to “see an extraordinary, active mind.”

“You see a man who believes we can go much farther,” the mayor said. “Not just a little bit. We can go much farther.”


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