NYPD boss James O’Neill to union: ‘Why would I walk away?’
Police Commissioner James O’Neill on Friday responded to his union’s calls for him to resign — saying he understands why cops might be upset over his decision to fire embattled Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo but he has no plans to leave the department.
“Why would I walk away? Look at where we are in New York City in 2019. Look at how much has been accomplished over the last 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years … If the time comes when I do have to leave, then that time is out there at some point, but it’s certainly not now,” O’Neill told reporters at a morning press conference at police headquarters.
“Sometimes they’re not very happy with the police commissioner but this is a job I have to do.”
Two days ago, delegates from the Police Benevolent Association unanimously approved a no-confidence vote against the department veteran and said O’Neill “cravenly acquiesced to the Mayor and his anti-cop allies” when he decided to kick Pantaleo off the force for his 2014 fatal arrest of Eric Garner. The union wants O’Neill to resign over his decision.
“I still have a lot of respect for [PBA President Patrick Lynch], he’s thinking what he needs to do for his membership but I don’t agree with him,” O’Neill said in response.
“We have to continue to put pressure on those that are out there driving the crime and violence, especially homicides and shooting.”
The comments came after the NYPD’s Chief of Department Terence Monahan admitted arrests were down city-wide amidst calls to the rank and file from union bosses to use “extreme caution” when performing routine police work, lest the department not have their back.
But O’Neill said despite the plummeting arrests, cops are out doing their job and need to continue focusing on protecting the city.
“These are not jobs where you can’t be focused. Every day you go out to work, you put your uniform on, you get into the car, you’re on a foot post, you’re on a train, you’re in a housing development, you have to pay attention to what’s going on around you,” O’Neill said.
“That’s how you keep yourself safe, that’s how you keep your partner safe, and that’s how you keep the community safe. So while this is going on with the PBA, I just want to make sure all of the police officers out there are keeping themselves safe and concentrating on what they need to concentrate on.”
When asked if cops will be ready for the often violent J’Ouvert celebrations and other typical Labor Day bloodshed this weekend, O’Neill scoffed.
“People become cops for a reason. And they understand what their mission is. And wherever they’re assigned, that’s what they do, they fight crime, and they keep people safe. They’re going to do that all throughout this weekend,” the top cop said.
“They’re going to keep people in Brooklyn safe, and they’re going to keep people in the other four boroughs safe, too. This is what they get paid to do, this is why they became police officers.”
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