Three women of color — including a Long Island resident — are on the shortlist to become the New York City Police Department's next top cop, law enforcement sources said.
NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes, former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and Philadelphia Police Chief Danielle Outlaw head the list of candidates New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams could announce as soon as this week, sources close to the selection process said.
New York City has never had a female police commissioner.
Adams, a former police captain and Brooklyn Borough President, said during the campaign that public safety was one of his primary concerns. He was traveling abroad, and a spokesman didn't return telephone calls on Monday.
Adams made it clear while campaigning that he intended to pick a woman to lead the nation’s largest police force, with almost 35,000 uniformed officers and 20,000 civilian employees.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced last week he will retire on Dec. 31.
The job pays a base salary of just over $239,000 a year, according to the website govsalaries.com.
Holmes, 57, of Long Island, has already made history on the NYPD when she was named in October 2020 to the chief of patrol job, the first woman to hold the post in the history of the department. NYPD officials said Holmes would not comment on the selection process.
Best, 56, quit her job in 2020 after the Seattle City Council decided to cut the force following weeks of riots and demonstrations in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing at the hands of Minneapolis police earlier last year. Outlaw, 45, took over the top job in Philadelphia in 2020.
"[Police Commissioner] Outlaw will not comment on speculation regarding the NYPD Commissioner position," a spokesman for Outlaw said.
Best couldn’t be reached for comment.
The new commissioner will immediately face high levels of street violence and an anti-police sentiment following Floyd's killing.
The new person will also have to deal with a workforce faced with significant attrition — retirements in 2021 reached higher than normal levels. Rank-and-file members and union officials also complained of anti-police attitude over negative public sentiment following the 2020 demonstrations.
So far in 2021, overall serious crimes in New York City have risen 4%, with shootings increasing 4% percent over a surge in gun violence in 2020 when the yearly increase was nearly 100% above 2019. Homicides are also up 42% over 2019.
Shea blamed the increase in violence in part on bail reform laws and the inability of lawmakers to make changes to those laws.
"I think the new police commissioner has two audiences," said Richard Aborn, head of the New York Citizens Crime Commission, a nonprofit and anti-crime city group. "[The person] has to be a very strong communicator to the public but also with the men and women of the NYPD."
Holmes, Best and Outlaw have been supporters in their public statements of community policing, a strategy introduced under the tenure of former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton in 2016.
The successful candidate will have to hit the ground running and some NYPD insiders have privately commented on whether an outsider will have enough time to show progress in crime reduction and be able to master the complexity of such a large police department with its own political intrigues and institutional history.
Aborn noted that Bratton came in during his second term as commissioner after being police chief in Los Angeles.
"To me, it is much more about getting the right person as opposed to someone inside or outside [the department]," Aborn said.