Police Commissioner and First Deputy in the Retirement File


The New York City Police Commissioner and his first deputy both filed papers to retire at the end of the year, after long careers that would end during one of the most tumultuous times of the history of the department.

The departures of Commissioner Dermot F. Shea, 52, and Benjamin B. Tucker, 70, the first Deputy Commissioner, come as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration draws to a close and paves the way for his successor to selecting a woman to head the department for the first time in its 176-year history.

Mayor-elect Eric Adams has said his appointee will most likely be a woman of color; Carmen Best, the former Seattle police chief, and Juanita Holmes, the police department’s patrol chief, are among several candidates vying for the role. Mr Adams is expected to announce his choice after returning from a trip to Ghana.

Mr. Shea joined the department in 1991 and was appointed commissioner towards the end of 2019. He led the department over a two-year period during which gun violence increased dramatically for the first time in nearly Three decades, the coronavirus pandemic has engulfed the city and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked massive protests against police brutality and racism. He leaves as police statistics show gun violence appears to be on the decline after an increase that began at the start of the pandemic, and police report record arrests with firearms.

“I can think of a few other times when it was so difficult to be a police commissioner because of the myriad of issues he faced,” said Richard Aborn, chairman of the Citizens Crime Commission, a non-profit organization. lucrative public safety. “I think through it all he’s been stable, made some interesting innovations in the department, and it’s starting to show results.”

The retirement declarations, which must be submitted 30 days in advance, were first reported by the New York Post.

Mr Shea spent 28 years in uniform before Mr de Blasio appointed him commissioner in 2019, emerging from a patrol in the Bronx and becoming the face of the department’s data-driven approach to wrestling and crime management.

As commissioner, he is best known for disbanding plainclothes anti-crime units that were known to have used aggressive tactics to target illegal firearms, a move made as massive protests erupted in the region. city. This move worried supporters of the tactic, as the shootings then increased sharply. Mr. Adams, a former police captain, is committed to reinventing teams with better-trained officers who know how to use community connections to find guns.

Mr Shea’s tenure was marked by public clashes with the mayor, a Democrat, and his frequent criticism of progressive prosecutors and national and local lawmakers, whose policies he accused of emboldening criminals. But he also evolved into the role, acknowledging and apologizing for a history of systemic racism in the department that he previously denied existed.

Its record on other issues is confused. He promoted a number of women and minorities to high-level positions during his tenure, including Chief Holmes, the first female officer to hold one of the department’s five main positions, and Martine Materrasso, the first woman to head the counter-terrorism office.

But the department has struggled to keep various leaders in the top ranks. Chief Holmes was only promoted after all of the department’s three-star female chefs – the highest rank under the four-star department head – retired last year. Other minorities Mr. Shea has promoted to senior positions have retired or are considering retiring, including Rodney K. Harrison, the department chief, and Fausto B. Pichardo, the patrol chief before Chief Holmes.

The department faces several lawsuits for policies Mr. Shea has vigorously defended, including maintaining secret databases containing DNA evidence and the names of people suspected of being gang members, and Division staff. Victims’ Special, which investigates sexual crimes and child abuse. . Frustrated sexual assault survivors and their advocates have called on the Justice Department to intervene.

Mary Haviland, former executive director of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, said the division was understaffed and many detectives still lacked the skills to conduct proper investigations.

“With the rotation of the different commanders, I think there was an internal morale problem,” she added. “I actually think things got worse under Commissioner Shea’s watch rather than better.”

Mr. Tucker has spent more than 50 years in public service, including 22 years as a police officer and a stint in the Department of Justice during the Clinton administration. As the first Deputy Police Commissioner, he oversaw the deployment of body cameras for more than 24,000 officers and the expansion of the department’s neighborhood policing program.

Mr Tucker, the city’s top black police official, became the department’s first deputy commissioner in 2014 under William J. Bratton, following the abrupt retirement of another senior official who was to occupy the office. job.

But as Mr. Bratton, and later his successor, each stepped down from their posts, Mr. Tucker did not step up to the leading role and remained No.2, although he had expected Mr. de Blasio asks him to take the reins. on Mr. Shea. Mr Tucker said at the time he was disappointed to have been ignored, and some politicians criticized the mayor’s decision to select a white man for the job for the third time.

A teenager in 1969, Mr. Tucker joined the department as an intern and spent the next two decades in multiple roles. He then left but eventually returned, and was tasked with reviewing use of force training and policies following the 2014 murder of Eric Garner, a black man placed in a fatal strangulation by a police officer of Staten Island.

Over the past few years, he has overseen changes to the department’s disciplinary system – which has come under intense scrutiny as long-secret police officers’ disciplinary records recently became public – including the standardization of the range of sanctions for police offenses.


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