NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, at podium, and First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin...

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, at podium, and First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, left, will both retire from the department, effective Dec. 31.   Credit: Marcus Santos

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and his top deputy are retiring, effective Dec. 31, a sign of coming change to the nation’s largest police department when Eric Adams takes over as mayor New Year's Day.

The retirement applications for Shea and First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, which were expected and filed Thursday, became public in an internal NYPD Finest Message that listed a total of seven retiring department members.

Shea, who joined the NYPD in April 1991, rose through the ranks and became police commissioner in December 2019, replacing James O’Neill, who left to take a job in private industry.

Shea’s tenure has been rocked with change and tumult. On his watch, cops dealt with bail reform, increased crime, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-police demonstrations following the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and efforts within the department to change its internal disciplinary system.

In 2020, homicides and shootings increased by 41% and nearly 98% respectively over the prior year. In one controversial move, Shea disbanded the street anti-crime unit, which some critics said led to increased gun violence. Mayor-elect Adams has promised to reinstitute the unit in some form after he takes office Jan. 1.

For his part, Shea has continually criticized bail reform — in which certain low-level offenders are released after arrest without bail and judges can't order suspects held on grounds they are a danger to the community — as a major contributor to an uptick of violence in the city.

Tucker joined the department in 1972. In 1987, he rose to the rank of sergeant. Over the years, Tucker left the NYPD to take various government jobs in law enforcement, including with the U.S. Department of Justice. Tucker returned to the NYPD in 2014 when then-Commissioner William Bratton promoted him to head of training. As first deputy commissioner, Tucker has been responsible for training, the police academy and risk management.

Adams, who is currently abroad in Africa, has yet to announce his pick as Shea’s successor, but has said he wants to appoint a woman of color to the post. Two candidates being talked about for the job are former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, who resigned in 2020 after the city council there decided to cut police funding, and Danielle Outlaw, current police chief in Philadelphia.

NYPD officials had no immediate comment on the retirements.

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