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No plans to leave NYPD commissioner job, O'Neill says

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, center, greets officers during

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, center, greets officers during a promotion ceremony at NYPD headquarters in Manhattan on Friday Credit: Jeff Bachner

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said Friday he had no current plans to leave his job, despite a recent vote of no-confidence from officials of the Police Benevolent Association and other criticism over his firing of Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Eric Garner case.

“Why would I walk away?,” O’Neill responded rhetorically to the question during a media briefing of whether he thought about quitting. “Look at where we are in New York City in 2019. Look at how much has been accomplished over the last five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years. Why would I walk away from this?”

“This is not something you walk away from,” O’Neill continued. “When the times comes when I do have to leave, then that time is out there at some point. But it certainly is not now.”

Speaking to reporters after a police promotion ceremony at NYPD headquarters, O’Neill acknowledged that he had a difficult job but said it was also very rewarding as he saw the city crime situation change for the better every day.

Earlier in the week a group of 400 delegates of the PBA, the union for 25,000 rank-and-file uniformed officers, issued a resolution of no confidence in O’Neill and called for his “immediate resignation.”  The union said O’Neill had yielded to pressure from anti-police advocates and elected officials such as Mayor Bill de Blasio to fire Pantaleo. The PBA also asked that de Blasio be removed from office.

Pantaleo was fired on Aug. 19 after O’Neill accepted the recommendation of a police administrative judge that the officer had used a prohibited chokehold while attempting to arrest Garner on Staten Island on July 17, 2014.  Medical officials testified that the confrontation the obese Garner had with police when he resisted arrest sparked an asthma attack that led to his death.

After Pantaleo was fired, PBA president Patrick Lynch called on officers to work by the book and not take unnecessary risks that could expose them to disciplinary problems.  Police statistics showed that in the week after Pantaleo was fired there a drop in misdemeanor arrests.

O’Neill insisted that officers were working, despite a drop in some arrests and that officers were doing their jobs.

“I have a lot of respect for Patty, he is thinking what he needs to do for his membership, I don’t agree with him,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill stressed that with this weekend's West Indian Day Parade and J’Ouvert celebration in Brooklyn that NYPD officers would be keeping people safe.

O’Neill also reiterated that the police Internal Affairs Bureau had reviewed the Garner case and that apart from the Pantaleo firing and the loss of 20 vacation days by Sgt. Kizzy Adonis there would be no further disciplinary cases in the Garner matter.

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