Precinct councils to take up role of interviewing candidates for precinct commander -- Mayor de Blasio

Precinct councils to take up role of interviewing candidates for precinct commander -- Mayor de Blasio

Moses Kuwema 


Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that police precinct councils will from now onwards take up the duty of interviewing candidates for the role of precinct commander.

Mayor de Blasio acknowledged that he adopted the idea from Brooklyn Borough President and aspiring mayor Eric Adams, a former NYPD officer. 

Speaking during his daily briefing at City Hall, Mayor de Blasio said when a precinct commander spot comes open, the NYPD Commissioner will provide to the police precinct council in that area three to five candidates to be interviewed and subsequently give the commissioner feedback.

"I'm announcing today, a change in how we select the most important frontline leaders of the NYPD. When you think about life in our neighborhoods, the local precinct commander for the NYPD is an absolutely pivotal leader," he said. "The precinct commander sets the tone. The precinct commander gives the men and women who patrol that neighborhood a sense of direction and the values they should bring to the work – absolutely crucial role. Now, we're announcing today a major change that will bring the community into the process of selecting precinct commanders. And I'm very excited about this, because, as someone, who started out as a local school board member and a City Council member, I saw the amazing work of our police precinct councils, really dedicated neighborhood residents who care deeply about making communities safe, but also holding police accountable and bringing the voices of the community forward."

Mayor de Blasio said the candidates that should be submitted for interviews, should be folks who are ready to serve and lead, and represent the diversity of this city.

"The Commissioner will make an ultimate decision and then work with the precinct council, going forward, to make sure that new leader takes over effectively. Then, the precinct council will have an ongoing role, as always, but formally as well in evaluating the work as that person goes to the important task of making the community safe and bringing the larger committee in. This is unprecedented in the history of NYPD," he said. "We're bringing the voices of the community forward to determine who would be the right leader. And that's going to, I think, help in a myriad of ways – it's going to improve dialogue, it's going to improve accountability, it's going to give folks a sense of real, real buy-in. I think it's going to help us improve the work on the ground and deepen that bond." 

And NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said he was behind the idea as it's one of the things that the NYPD heard over and over in New York City. 

"People want to feel a connection to their NYPD and especially at the leadership positions. And this, I think, really goes very far into building that trust both ways. I think from the PD perspective and from the executive perspective, it really lends to an environment where it's a team process," Commissioner Shea said. "And you've talked about it and we've certainly talked about it for years now about that shared responsibility, police and community, working together. You've heard Rodney Harrison, Juanita Holmes, Terry Monahan – this is exactly what we're trying to build here and I think this is going to be a real, real positive step. So, from my perspective, it's a win. It's an opportunity for precinct commanders to really, from the ground floor, speak to the community that they're working so hard to protect and serve, and get to know them from an early step." 

Commissioner Shea said one of the things that the police hears a lot at reform meetings are pleas from the communities to have their precinct commanders stay longer. 

"I think this is a win-win. I think it's a positive for New York City," he said. "And, in many ways, a precinct commander is like a miniature mayor of that command. The bonds that you develop to this day exist. People want to get to know those precinct commanders, as well as the police officers and those commands, and they want to know that they're working towards a common bond, if you will, to solve problems in the community."

In response, Mayor de Blasio said, "And I want to say, the point you made about the questions people have about whether the precinct commander should stay on the job longer if they're effective, if they're bonded with the community – that's a real question. I've heard that for years, a community really gets to know a precinct commander, really feels in sync with them, and then, you know, they go on to another command. There's a sense of let-down. We understand police leaders need to keep developing their career and some of them will ultimately end up being chiefs or even commissioner one day, but we also understand communities are really looking for the right fit." 

Mayor de Blasio said the new changes will fundamentally change the reality for the better and make sure that with community input, the neighborhoods would be brought into the process of safety more deeply.

"So, again, everyone, this is one example of some of the things you'll hear about tonight in the State of the City. This is a major step forward. It's going to be implemented right away, let me make that clear. I’ve spoken to the Commissioner about the selections he'll be making in the weeks ahead and the months ahead for precinct commanders during the year 2021, this will be the process that will be activated right away," said Mayor de Blasio.