Dec. 3, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Sunnyside native Dermot Shea was sworn in as the 44th police commissioner of New York City at a ceremony at One Police Plaza Monday.
Shea, who previously served as the NYPD’s Chief of Detectives, was appointed to the position last month after his predecessor James O’Neill announced his resignation.
Shea joined the city’s police force nearly three decades ago and rose to be commander of the 44th and 50th Precincts in the Bronx before becoming Chief of Detectives.
The newly-appointed commissioner was born in Sunnyside to parents who both immigrated from Ireland in the 1950s. His parents met in New York, settled in Sunnyside and raised five children in crowded apartments.
At Monday’s ceremony, Shea thanked his parents, stating, “They came here like so many others with a dream for a better life.”
Shea’s father worked as a union handyman.
Mayor Bill de Blasio administered the Oath of Office to Shea at NYPD headquarters, after introducing him.
“I’ve seen him in the halls of this building. I’ve seen him in our communities,” the mayor said. “He’s the same person wherever he goes, because he knows the streets of the city, he knows our people, and he feels that deep connection.”
Shea is taking over command of the NYPD at a time when crime is historically low. When he joined the force in 1991, there were more than 2,000 homicides that year. In 2018, the city saw just 295 murders, he said.
“We’ve pushed crime down while also reducing criminal summons, stops, arrests, and incarceration,” Shea said. “And throughout our police department, we are building trust and strengthening relationships in every New York City community and more to do.”
He emphasized the role of neighborhood policing in lowering crime rates and bettering the force and said he plans to strengthen and grow the practice during his tenure as commissioner.
“Neighborhood policing and precision policing are seamlessly blended together and serve, I believe as a model of American policing and proof that, yes, you can have it all.”
He asked NYPD officers to create new partnerships with residents, clergy members, community-based groups and private sector entities to further develop the program.
“We are going to build upon the framework of neighborhood policing, bolster existing relationships and to create new ones from one end of New York City to the other,” Shea said.
The NYPD will foster relationships with the community, whilst remaining tough on crime, he said. He also emphasized the need to help young people avoiding wandering down a path of crime from the beginning.
“With every New Yorker entitled to safety, I believe we stand on the threshold of taking our nation’s safest big city and making it a city in which every neighborhood is as important as every other, where every child can grow up free of the threat of crime.”