NYC Mayor De Blasio Announces Surge In Neighborhood Policing and Resignation of Bratton, Police Commissioner

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Bratton with successor O'Neill

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the resignation of New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton this afternoon. Transcript as provided by the mayor's office follows. 
So glad you all could join us today. Well, it’s a very important day for New York City – a very good day, a very meaningful day. And it is a day where we once again recognize the extraordinary achievements of our police force, and driving down crime, and making our neighborhoods safer, and bringing police and community closer together. And we celebrate. We celebrate transition filled with continuity, filled with share of vision. And we celebrate taking a step into New York City’s future.
In September, Commissioner Bill Bratton – whose contributions to our city and to law enforcement not only here, but across the nation are literally inestimable and extraordinary – in September, Commissioner Bratton will retire from the NYPD. And we have found the perfect person to succeed him in Chief Jimmy O’Neill. And I congratulate you, Chief O’Neill, on this very important day for the city.
I will say at the outset – I always call him Jimmy. You can call him James; you can call him Jim; but I always call him Jimmy.
Jimmy is one of the best prepared incoming police commissioners this city has ever seen. His decades of experience have taught him not only how to lead and how to continue to improve the extraordinary work of the work of the NYPD, but also led him to the vision of neighborhood policing that is now taking hold as the philosophy of this Department. He is the architect of our neighborhood policing strategy – a strategy that Commissioner Bratton and Chief O’Neill convinced me over the last few years would be the future of this city and was deserving of extraordinary investment – a strategy that’s going to make us safer, a strategy that’s going to bring police and community closer together. This is the man who created that vision of neighborhood policing, and he is the man who will see that vision through to fruition for the good of all New Yorkers.
We will never forget or fail to honor the achievements of Bill Bratton. And he and I have developed an intense bond over these last 31 months. And I am happy for the future and I’m happy for your future. But I want you to know this extraordinary friendship – I’ll miss seeing you every single day – but this friendship and this deep, deep connection will continue. And I want to thank you for all you’ve done for the people of New York City.
When we think about the 31 months – we came into office all of us together with the goal of doing two things that many said could not be done at the same time – driving down crime while repairing some of the rift between police and community. We said both of those things have to happen. We knew it was a tough road.
Wherever Bill Bratton has gone, he’s worked on both those fronts. And he had an extraordinary Chief of Department in Jimmy O’Neill to help find a path that would take us to some of the lowest crime we’ve ever seen in the history of this city, while at the same time righting some of the wrongs of the past – fixing a broken policy of stop-and-frisk, changing the relationship between police and community, precinct by precinct.
That work has a long way to go – I want to emphasize that. But I don’t think any of us could have imagined a more productive 31 months. I don’t think any of us could have imagined more done in such a short period of time. And these gentlemen and the wonderful colleagues – the rest of the senior leadership – has done an extraordinary job. And by the way, one thing that’s been a hallmark of Bill Bratton and I know is something that Jimmy O’Neill believes in deeply is a sense of a team – a team that works together, a team where everyone gets to shine, everyone matters. It’s brought out the best in the NYPD leadership, up and down the line. And that’s one of the reasons you see this extraordinary success.
We remember what the city used to be like. A lot of us lived it – over 2,000 murders a year, disorder was common. Quality-of-life offenses almost went without notice, they were so common.
Bill Bratton and Jack Maple, may he rest in peace, changed that for all of us but there was so much more to be done with that model. It wasn’t enough to just end the bad. We had to start working toward the good, towards our status as the safest big city in America, towards the goal of real harmony between police and community. That’s work, again, we’ve come a long way – much more to be done.
But when you go back and you think about those days in the early ‘90s with this man and his – not partner-in-crime Jack Maple, that’s the wrong phrase – his partner-in-fighting-crime, Jack Maple, believed something different could happen.
They had a vision that many doubted. They had a vision that was big and different. They believed. They had faith. They were willing to go were people hadn’t gone before.
You’re going to see the same from Jimmy O’Neill when it comes to neighborhood policing. He is ready to take this department where it’s never been before in terms of a truly deep and consistent bond between police and community. It’s an idea. It’s been talked about for decades. It’s never been achieved on a sustained basis. But this is the man who will achieve it, and that is very good news for the people of New York City.
Neighborhood policing continues to grow. We are rolling it out in 51 percent of our precincts this fall, and we will continue from there. And you’ll see what it means in the lives of everyday New Yorkers – when they actually know the officer who patrols their part of their neighborhood, when they know the officer’s name, where they have a sense of personal connection, neutral respect, shared mission – that’s going to change this city for the better.
Jimmy is the real thing in every way. First of all, he comes from some place I like to call, the one-true borough, Brooklyn – born and bred – Flatbush, Brooklyn. And that upbringing – which he’ll talk about, I’m sure – growing up in the city, learning about the people of this city from the beginning of his life, brought up by a wonderful family that instilled in him values of service, and then joining the NYPD 33 years ago as a Transit officer.
And we were talking last night about the fact that Transit officers, they get to know New York City shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of New York City – every kind of New Yorker, up close and personal – gives them a special perspective.
Jimmy kept the people of this city safe one tour at a time, and then he started to rise. He was noticed early on by great leaders of the Department like Bill Bratton. He rose through the ranks, commanded precincts, worked narcotics-fugitive enforcements, trained future officers at the Police Academy – he did so many of the crucial roles in the Department, and along the way built tremendous relationships with leaders of this city, and great sense of neutral respect. And I hear it from them all the time, their appreciation for the way Jimmy O’Neill communicates with them, shares his thoughts and vision, listens to their concerns.
Commissioner Bratton understood what Jimmy could bring to the equation as he built this extraordinary leadership team, as he thought about how to take CompStat to the next level. And Jimmy’s been intimately involved in the further deepening of that extraordinary model.
And as the architect of neighborhood policing, he’s creating a model that I believe we’re going to make work here. I believe it’s going to change this city. I believe it’s going to become a model that’ll be looked at around the country because it really answers what people are aching – everyone’s aching for it. People in neighborhoods just want to be safe, they want to have a sense they are respected, they want to walk out the door in the morning know they’ll be safe, come home at night. And our police officers want the exact same thing. They want to be able to say good bye to their families in the morning, come home safely at night. They want respect for the good work they do for us. They want to contribute. That’s why they chose this profession. Neighborhood policing is the model that allows that to finally happen the way it was meant to.
And the many, many New Yorkers, when I talk to them say, we remember the cop on the beat, we remember the officer we knew – the guy who knew everyone of us, knew every parents, every child. We yearn for those days. We want to see today’s version of that. That’s what Jimmy O’Neill will create in this city.
Well, I know this is a job for a strong man. I know it is a job for someone with a real vision – a vision of change and reform and progress. Like I always said about Bill Bratton, who never has ever rested on his laurels to the benefit of all is, Jimmy O’Neill burns with a passion to keep making things betters, to keep finding the next innovation. And he is going to be an extraordinary leader for this Department.

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