In a development that doesn't bode well for the future of public safety in America's largest city, veteran NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill is reportedly expected to resign his post as soon as Monday, according to a report in the New York Post.
The city's top police official has been rumored to be on the cusp of resigning for months now, and it's likely that he will make it official during a press briefing scheduled for Monday afternoon. His departure comes just over three years into his tenure.
The impetus for his departure is obvious: He refused to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who killed Staten Island resident Eric Garner back in 2014 as officers were trying to subdue him while placing him under arrest for selling untaxed cigarettes. Pantaleo was finally fired in August for allegedly placing Garner in an illegal chokehold that led to his death. Pantaleo is now suing the city, and O'Neill's decision to go along with a judge's recommendation to fire Pantaleo - who was acquitted on murder charges stemming from the killing - badly damaged his support among rank-and-file cops.
O'Neill's departure caps off a career in policing that began more than 30 years ago when the East Flatbush native joined the NYC Transit Police at the age of 25 back in 1983. The transit police merged with the NYPD in 1995, and O'Neill subsequently worked his way up the ranks in the department, serving as a commanding officer in three districts.
O'Neill's decision comes at a difficult time for the NYPD. NYC residents who have been incensed by the rash of police shootings that helped launched the "Black Lives Matter" movement are becoming increasingly hostile to the NYPD, often treating them more like an occupying force than the public servants responsible for a staggering drop in the city's crime rate since it peaked in the early 1990s. Under O'Neill's leadership, the city's murder rate hit an all-time low during the first half of this year.
Without the work of the NYPD, the many "hip" Brooklyn neighborhoods that have been caught up in the wave of gentrification in the borough over the past 15 years would still be too dangerous for all the young, white twentysomethings who migrated there to find work (or to waste their rich parents' money).
New York's CBS News affiliate reported last week that an NYPD vehicle was vandalized on Halloween Night. A small group of residents were seen laughing and taunting two police officers cleaning up the vehicle in a brazen show of disrespect.
Still, the officers at the scene showed tremendous restraint while cleaning the broken eggs, rotten food and cardboard covering their vehicle. The officers were responding to a domestic dispute call nearby when the incident occurred.
Over the summer, a similar incident garnered national attention when gang members dumped buckets of water on an NYPD officer's head.
With Mayor Bill de Blasio still in power, finding a replacement for O'Neill could prove difficult: De Blasio has developed a reputation for being hostile to his own police force, often taking the side of SJW activists over his own top police officials. Given the utter lack of support he has been shown during his tenure, the only surprising thing about O'Neill's departure is that he managed to hang on for this long.