On Tuesday, Aug. 2, New York City Police Department's past, present and future took center stage when it announced James O'Neill will lead the NYPD as its new police commissioner.
In a surprise announcement, commissioner Bill Bratton announced his impending resignation, set to take place in November, to take a job in the private sector. Bratton told Mayor Bill de Blasio of his resignation on July 8, after a six-month progress report, the mayor said at a press conference.
O'Neill has been on the NYPD for more than 30 years. He began his career as a transit officer in 1983. O'Neill moved from transit police to different positions in narcotics and fugitive apprehension. He was promoted to chief of patrol in 2014, NBC New York reported.
"You learned how to navigate the subways and talk to anyone imaginable," he said of his early years on the force, at a press conference.
It's that focus on talking to anyone imaginable that de Blasio says will be the department's ethos moving forward. De Blasio touted O'Neill as a chief architect of the city's neighborhood policing program.
During his introductory remarks, O'Neill called the protests that galvanized the city after the death of Eric Garner in 2014 as a key turning point.
"It was clear the NYPD had to evolve," O"Neill said of the time. "That's when neighborhood policing was really born."
He ended his remarks on a hopeful tone. "Knowing who your police officers are is one way to strengthen the bond that exists in many places, and build it where it doesn't," he said.