New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has passed over a Black man for the third time in a row to instead promote a white man as the city’s police commissioner.
Despite First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker having served in the second-highest ranking position in the New York City Police Department since 2014, de Blasio announced Monday that Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea would be promoted to commissioner instead.
“NYPD Commissioner is one of the biggest jobs in America,” de Blasio said in a tweet Monday. “We picked a leader who knows this city inside and out.”
The mayor revealed the decision in the same City Hall press conference where he announced Commissioner James O’Neill was stepping down to enter the private sector.
Tucker also spoke at the press conference.
“Yeah, of course you’re disappointed,” he said. “At the same time, it’s the mayor’s call.”
De Blasio’s announcement came less than three months after a police union called for O’Neill’s resignation following his decision to fire Daniel Pantaleo, the New York cop who put Eric Garner in a deadly chokehold.
O’Neill, 61, said little about why he’s deciding to take up a new gig after a career spanning more than 30 years with NYPD.
“I’m leaving because I have another opportunity,” he said briefly at the press conference Monday. “I’ll talk a little more about that after I leave. But it’s something I couldn’t pass up.”
O’Neill replaced Bill Bratton in September 2016. Shea will take office Dec. 1.
A product of Queens and the son of Irish immigrants, Shea began his career as an NYPD police officer in 1991 and rose through the ranks over the years, according to the city.
Still, critics argue Shea’s 28 years of experience is no match for Tucker’s nearly 50-year career in public service.
He was an NYPD police officer for 15 years before he was promoted to sergeant in 1987 and continued an upward career trajectory.
Former President Bill Clinton appointed Tucker as the deputy director for Operations in the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the U.S. Department of Justice in 1995.
Fourteen years later, former President Barack Obama nominated Tucker, 68, to serve the state and local affairs division within the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.
In NYPD, however 79 percent of those promoted above the rank of captain are white, according to the nonprofit news organization The City.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said Wednesday on the Brian Lehrer show that even with increased diversity in NYPD, “we have to do something about it.”
“I am frustrated that this mayor who came in talking about diversity has now skipped over the top ranking black and brown people who work in the NYPD for another white male,” Williams said. “Three times, it seems to be a pattern.”
Bratton told The New York Times Tuesday Tucker would have been a fine choice, as would the chief of patrol, who is Black, or deputy commissioner for counterterrorism, who is white.
“If he put a black candidate, the Latinos would not have been happy,” Bratton said of de Blasio. “It is such a diverse city that no matter what you do, there will be criticism.”
Bratton also said the mayor, who is married to a Black woman, believed he had the political capitol to spare.
“This is a mayor who believed that his credentials in the area of racial justice are very solid: a multiracial marriage, a diverse leadership in City Hall,” Bratton said. “I think he felt he had the political capital to make a decision where he could put another white guy in charge of the NYPD.”