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Queens Council Member Calls for Mayor to Fire Police Commissioner Shea

CM Rory Lancman and Dermot Shea (NYC Council and Mayors Office)

July 7, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Council Member Rory Lancman has called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to fire Police Commissioner Dermot Shea for blaming the recent surge in violent crime on criminal justice reforms and measures that aim to combat police brutality.

Lancman, who represents the 24th Council District in central Queens, said that Shea’s statements are an admission of failure and a complete surrender to lawlessness.

The councilman penned a letter July 6 to the mayor calling for Shea to be sacked.

Lancman took exception to comments by Shea, where the commissioner attributed the recent surge in violent crime to bail reform, the reduction of inmates at Rikers Island and legislation banning chokeholds. Shea also said that police were short on resources to do their job effectively.

“Look at the Rikers population over the last year… ask a sane person, it’s about half,” Shea told NY1 Monday.

“And where is that other half right now? We’ve transplanted the general population to the streets of New York City and it’s extremely frustrating,” he said.

Shea said that a council bill that will ban methods of restraint–like chokeholds and kneeling on a suspect’s back–is preventing cops from doing their jobs effectively.

“We have to change that diaphragm [chokehold] bill that came out of the city council, it is insane and it is crippling police officers,” Shea said.

Lancman refuted the commissioner’s claims and said that those laws were drafted to protect residents from police brutality and a biased criminal justice system.

Lancman also said that it made no sense for Shea to blame the city council’s chokehold bill since it has yet to become law.

The council bill, which was introduced by Lancman and passed by the council June 18, will make it a criminal offense for cops to use chokeholds in all situations. It goes further than state legislation – which was signed by the governor last month – by also banning cops from sitting, kneeling or standing on a suspect’s chest and back during an arrest.

“Police Commissioner Dermot Shea’s blaming a violent weekend on no longer jailing people too poor to pay bail and on officers soon no longer being allowed to choke suspects with impunity is a stunning admission of failure and a complete surrender to lawlessness,” Lancman wrote in the letter.

“If he won’t resign, you need to fire him and appoint a Commissioner and a senior police leadership committed to, and capable of, obeying civilian authority and enforcing the law,” he wrote.

Lancman’s letter came after a weekend of bloodshed on New York City streets that saw 63 people shot from Friday, July 3 to Sunday, July 5 resulting in 10 fatalities, according to the NYPD. There was also one fatal stabbing.

Over the same three-day period last year there were 21 people shot and 6 murders, police said.

However, de Blasio has ignored Lancman’s appeal for Shea’s firing and said today that he is sticking with the NYPD’s leadership. The mayor said that the police department has taken steps to improve and said that the recent uptick in crime was an aberration due to multiple factors.

“The answer is no,” the mayor said at a press briefing when a reporter referred to Lancman’s letter and whether Shea should be fired.

“This is now a majority people of color police department… a police department that has reduced arrests intensely, got rid of stop-and-frisk… and reduced the amount of arrests to the tune of hundreds of thousands while keeping the city safe,” he said.

Queens Council member Robert Holden also rejected Lancman’s calls to remove Shea.

Holden said that some elected officials are determined to bring the city back to the “bad old days.”

“We should listen to veteran law enforcement experts like Commissioner Shea, not call for their removal because they disagree with bad legislation that will make us all less safe,” Holden told the Queens Post.

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Click for Comments 
Ali Abdalla.

I like the police commission I believe his fear And gentlemen I don’t see any wrong doing

Sara Ross

The moron mayor should resign! Why do you think PC O’Neill left? He couldn’t stand dealing with somebody who was about as supportive as 3 legged table. PC Shea has been doing a great job considering the idiots he’s had to deal with, the increased in gun violence and the violence from people who were disguised as protestors but were really criminals who committed robberies, vandalism, destroying of property (breaking into stores and taking whatever they wanted), assault, murder and on and on. All DeButthead has to say is “it’s unacceptable”. We’re not dealing with teenagers who stayed out later than their curfew! He also needs to get back the millions of dollars he’s given to his do nothing wife for her Thrive NYC which has done nothing since day 1. They’re both worthless and maybe when they’re out of city hall, they can apply at Target for a job because they both have zero skills between them.

Paul Kersey

Sure blame the pandemic and not the police hating rhetoric that has cops doing nothing out of fear of reprisal. Constant reminders that they are bad and we must defund and disarm them. Every day the marxist mayor lambasts them as well as the liberal media-especially NY1 and the loathsome Gloria Pazmino who passes herself off as a reporter. She pushes the anti police rhetoric without batting an eye. Then the trio of puppet morning anchors wonder why the uptick? The mayor has released criminals from Rikers Island. What did you expect???? Now gun violence will kill more people this summer than the corona virus. But let’s defund and disarm the police. idiots

stan chaz

Instead of being a unifying force in this unprecedented time of multi-faceted crisis points, the divisive & tone-deaf rhetoric of Commish Shea is beginning to sound like some of his irresponsible police union heads. If Shea can’t keep NYC safe with an enormous 5 billion dollar NYPD budget (even after any diversion of resources), then replace him with someone who can. Shea’s job is to enforce the laws –not to try to remake them to his liking. If he want to do that, then Shea should quit and run for Mayor. Otherwise stop the wining and the excuses and just do your job. Amazingly, after all the justifiable anger & anguish that America has gone through in the last few weeks, Shea still wants to use chokeholds! What kind of message does that send out? We will continue to judge Shea on his actions (and inactions) of course, but all too many of his words lack the balance, sensitivity & understanding that a person in his very public position should exhibit and embody. Words matter.

Stew Frimer

careful for what you wish for…the pandemic is being blamed for the increase and violence and killings-in NYC ? I just don’t see the connection…People on the front lines are suffering…but killing and shootings? Please-tell that to a grieving parent.-Atlanta-where children are being killed and in Chicago…I don’t know I’m just a little skeptical when people say that youth programs keep kids from shooting other kids…there is no justification for killing especially a child. It is a total lack of conscience that makes someone kill. The mayor of Atlanta so profoundly and emotionally authentic spoke about ‘killing our own’-There is no justification for it. Is there police brutality absolutely-and none of it on any level justified. Neither is this..


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