NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It has been a year like no other for the nation’s largest police department, and its 44th commissioner, Dermot Shea.
New York City’s top cop sat down for a one-on-one interview with CBS2’s Ali Bauman on Wednesday to discuss everything that has happened.
“I think people will be talking about this period of time for a long time,” Shea said.
“I don’t think we were fully prepared for what we saw in May, the speed of it and the intensity of the immediate violence,” Shea said.
Last week, the Department of Investigation released a 111-page report on the NYPD‘s response to the demonstrations, finding the department was not prepared and use of excessive force heightened tensions.
“I also covered the protests daily for weeks during the spring and summer and the report was pretty damning. How could the best police force in the country have been so unprepared for these large-scale protests?” Bauman asked the commissioner.
“There are things that clearly I think we can do better. From having clear policies in outlining to everyone our intentions,” Shea said. “I think we got away from some of the training that we could’ve done better to the boots on the ground.”
When asked if he believes there would’ve been fewer clashes between police and protesters had officers been better trained to deal with those kinds of protests, Shea said, “That’s a great point. The good news is that we’re looking internally, probably harsher than anyone will look at us, and we’ve already identified a number of things we think we need to either speed the clock on or do better.”
The commissioner acknowledged the public perception of the department has suffered as a result.
“There’s no doubt that we took a hit this year in our trust, but there’s also a bigger picture going on, again, when you look at the whole country,” Shea said. “So, it’s not like we’re saying, ‘Oh no, this isn’t a New York problem.’ The problems were here as well. But if you’re going to be honest, it runs much deeper than law enforcement and it goes to inequities and it goes to racism and it goes to opportunity. But you see these things play out much beyond law enforcement.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given all local police departments until April to create a plan for reforming themselves or lose state funding. Shea said the NYPD is running full speed ahead.
“We’ve had listening tours all over New York City. I got a presentation from my deputy commissioner of strategic initiatives yesterday,” Shea said. “At the end of the day, it’s on us to change. There is never going to be, in my opinion, change that’s effected better from the outside than inside.”
The city is also seeing a disturbing rise in violent crime. Murders are up this year 39%, burglaries are up 41% and shootings are up 98%.
“How are officers right now working to get guns off the streets?” Bauman asked.
“We have to really redouble our efforts on gang violence. We have to continue to work with our partners in the criminal justice system. We’re going to need help from some of the laws,” Shea said.
Shea assumed his role as New York City’s top cop last December. He stayed coy about how long he plans to continue as commissioner.
When asked what he thinks his legacy will be as commissioner, Shea said, “I’m not perfect but it’s trying to do what’s right for the NYPD, equally as concerned about New Yorkers in general and trying to do right for them. If that’s a legacy, I’ll take it.”
As for his future with the department, the commissioner said he is taking it one day at a time, adding there is a lot to get keep New Yorkers’ quality of life and safety back where it should be.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman contributed to this report