NYPD commissioner talks challenges, goals for 2020


Dermot Shea graduated from SUNY Oneonta on a Saturday in May of 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics in hand, but by Monday morning he was working for 32BJ. His boss allowed to leave his post from time to time to interview for positions in the world of finance, but things weren’t going as planned.

“It wasn’t the best time to be looking for a job,” Shea recalled. “I had taken the police test my junior year, but didn’t take it with the intention of coming on the job. I figured I would finish school and find a different job, but I think fate pushed me down a different path.”

So Shea entered the Police Academy, and in 1991 he was sent to his first assignment in the Bronx. It’s a decision he has never once regretted.

“More and more I found myself saying ‘I don’t see myself sitting behind a desk,’” he told This Is Queensborough during a recent interview in his office at One Police Plaza. “From the moment I got into the academy, there was never a doubt I was going to continue with policing. I didn’t know that much about it going in, but once I was in, I knew I was never leaving.”

Shea quickly rose through the ranks. Within three years he was a sergeant, which due to a change in department policy is a jump so swift it’s not even allowed today. He began to work in the investigative world, holding posts in the Narcotics Division in the Bronx and Queens. By 2002, he was a captain. Today, he is commissioner of one of the oldest – and the largest – police departments in the United States.

“I never even saw myself as a precinct commander, but you build a reputation on this job and you keep working,” Shea said, reflecting on his nearly 30-year career in the NYPD. “Sometimes the jobs find you.”

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