New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill resigned from his post atop the country’s largest police force and will take a job in the private sector, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, who has been on the force for 28 years, will replace O’Neill, de Blasio said.
O’Neill began his tenure in September 2016 after being appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. He previously served as NYPD Chief of Department and has worked as a police officer in New York City since 1983, according to his NYPD bio.
His resignation comes just months after O’Neill announced that he was firing Daniel Pantaleo, the officer accused of fatally choking Eric Garner in 2014. The firing was a fraught choice for O’Neill, who said in August that he would probably not be happy with the firing if he were still an officer.
“Had I been in (Pantaleo’s) situation, I may have made similar mistakes,” he said.
The New York City Police Benevolent Association, the union representing NYPD officers, slammed the firing and unanimously approved a resolution of no confidence in him.
During O’Neill’s tenure, the NYPD moved away from the aggressive “stop-and-frisk” policy of former mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. The policy was found to be unconstitutional for illegally targeting blacks and Latinos.
Proponents of the policy had warned that crime would rise without aggressive policing. However, New York City — like many American cities nationwide — has seen a broad decrease in crime over the past few years, especially compared to its height in the 1990s.
“(O’Neill) is the architect of neighborhood policing. He drove crime to record lows while working tirelessly to bring police and communities together. He leaves behind a city that’s safer than it’s been in decades,” de Blasio tweeted. “I’m lucky to have worked with as good a man as Jimmy O’Neill.”
“The relationship between the community and the police is fundamentally different than it was a few years ago,” de Blasio said Monday. “This is a safer city and a fairer city and we have proven that those two ideas go together.”
In addition, O’Neill has spoken out about a series of officer suicides this year and tried to end the stigma of officers seeking mental health help.
The mayor praised Shea, the incoming commissioner.
“A 28-year veteran, he knows what it’s like to walk a beat and lead a precinct. He helped build the strategies that have driven crime to record lows. He’s a proven change agent,” de Blasio tweeted.