By Patrick Donachie
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has overseen the department during the entirety of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first term, announced his resignation Tuesday. De Blasio quickly announced that Chief of Department Jimmy O’Neill would be promoted to the job being vacated by Bratton.
The news was announced during a noon press conference at City Hall attended by de Blasio, Bratton and O’Neill. The mayor lauded the “friendship and deep connection” with the outgoing commissioner and said that they started together to do two things that “many said could not be done:” to reduce crime while repairing rifts between the community and police.
“That work has a long way to go,” de Blasio said. “But I don’t think anyone could imagine a more productive 31 months.”
Bratton did not disclose his next step except to say that it was in the private sector.
De Blasio said Bratton informed him of his decision to resign July 8 in a two-hour conversation. After a series of more private conversations between Bratton and the mayor, O’Neill was asked to be commissioner about 16 hours prior to the press conference.
O’Neill joined the NYPD as a transit officer 33 years ago and eventually became commanding officer of the 25th, 44th and Central Park precincts. On Nov. 3, 2014, he was named the chief of department, which is the highest uniformed position in the NYPD. De Blasio and Bratton lauded him as one of the architects of the neighborhood policing model, which will be instituted in half of the city’s precincts by the fall.
Bratton said his decision had nothing to do with ongoing NYPD corruption investigation, and the mayor stressed “110 percent” that recent protests calling for Bratton’s firing had nothing to do with the resignation.
“As we go forward and face the crises of race in America, crime in America… there’s no police department that will be better prepared to face the crises we will face in the future,” Bratton said. “I’ve never had a concern about being fired by this mayor because we work so well together.”
Neither Bratton nor de Blasio would reveal the private-sector opportunity that Bratton has decided to embark upon, but alluded to it throughout the press conference. According to Bratton, he had several offers during the past few years, and he would be staying in New York City. He said where he would be working would “not be in the governmental arena” and would not be connected to policing. He thanked de Blasio for his friendship and for supporting him and understanding the “importance of a seamless transition.”
“And you’re seeing that today,” Bratton remarked.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona