Standing tall: Police Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill has more than earned the confidence of officers and civilians alike
In the wake of the firing of Daniel Pantaleo, the city’s police unions have all but declared war on the NYPD’s leadership, including a police commissioner who wore the shield for some 34 years.
Their primal screams are divisive. More importantly, they are utterly unfair.
Pat Lynch’s Police Benevolent Association passed a no-confidence vote in Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner O’Neill, calling for their firing or resignation. Sergeants’ union boss Ed Mullins has taken to Twitter with juvenile insults; once, he referred to “ball less leaders O’Kneel & Monahan."
Where to begin? Start with the fact that, once the city got the ball rolling on Pantaleo’s disciplinary hearing, the NYPD went by the book. O’Neill, calmly assessing the evidence and the rules, rightly chose to dismiss.
But a broader look at O’Neill’s tenure over the last three years since he succeeded puts the lie to any claims of bad management.
At the end of 2016, there were 335 murders in New York City. In 2017, there were 292, a stunning drop of 13%. Overall, crime was down 5.4%. Those numbers dropped further in 2018, to levels not seen since the 1950s.
As the public face of the department, O’Neill does remarkably well too. He combines no-nonsense firmness with a healthy respect for the perspectives of critics.
As police officers have taken their lives, he has reached out to men and women in uniform, urging them to seek help when they grapple with depression and other challenges.
It’s ironic. By scorching the earth in a supposed effort to defend the good name of police, the vast majority of whom deserve the city’s deepest respect, Lynch and Mullins have set their own men and women back.