Transcript: Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O'Neill Deliver Remarks at Plaque Dedication Ceremony Honoring NYPD Detective Steven McDonald

January 10, 2018

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Bittersweet is the word today. A year after his death we're here to remember everything about Detective Steven McDonald and there is so much to remember. Such a rich legacy, such a powerful example.

You know people will see this plaque for years and years to come and they'll be reminded but not of an idea they tried to grasp that's difficult but an idea that's powerful and passionate and immediate that we all should be about serving others, that we should all be about protecting others, and forgiving those we come across who do the wrong thing as well as celebrating those who do the right thing. That's what his life was about and it was so extraordinary.

And his example as urgent and powerful, is something you can think of and in an instant get a sense of what the right thing to do is. So, yes, bitter because we miss him but sweet because we knew him and because he taught us so much so beautifully.

I want to thank everyone who is here and so many people wanted to be here to honor this man and honor this good family. Thank you, Commissioner O'Neill and Chief Terry Monahan – and congratulations to you. Thank you to my colleagues in government, Speaker Corey Johnson and Council member Vanessa Gibson. Thank you to Cardinal Dolan and it's all the more to have you here. Thank you Mayor Dinkins and Commissioner Bratton.

Everyone together because we were all touched so positively by his life and moved by his example. But I never want us to for a moment underestimate the power of the example of his family.

Patti, I am always moved when I think of everything that you've done for this city and for this department, everything you did for Steven, the example you've been.

I have to tell you, people have looked to you as an example of strength – and it wasn't easy for you, I know that – as an example of believing in something and living it out, and your faith – everyone who knows you, knows how powerful your faith is.

Thank you, Patti, for all you have done for all of us by your example. Let's thank Patti.


And Conor, what every father could wish for – a son who lives out his legacy and you're doing it with passion. Anyone who spends a little time with Conor knows he has one speed –


Passionate, energetic, doesn't do anything halfway. Well, we know who he learned that from. And I'm so proud of you for what you are now doing for the people of this city and for the NYPD. Let's thank Conor.


All 8.5 million New Yorkers owe a debt of gratitude to this family and it's one that we can repay in a small way by remembering this powerful legacy by talking about it, by spreading the news, by teaching this example, and keeping this memory alive.

For his second family, the men and women in blue, Steven felt such love and such a desire to teach, to take from what he had experienced, and bring those lessons to officers whether they had been in this department for decades or whether they were fresh out of the academy.

What's so amazing, and we can't ever underestimate this, is if you were here that day, that horrible fateful day in the summer of 1986, it would have been unimaginable that a man in that position could have forgiven, that he could have found more faith in adversity, that he could have gathered his strength to help so many other people and spread a message worldwide. But that's precisely what Steven McDonald did.

There was never any self-pity. There was never any cynicism. There was never any sense that he would just walk away. He could have. No one could have blamed for that but a man of faith like him believes it's important to live the word and this beautiful passage from scripture from Corinthians is a reminder of the way he lived for three full decades after that tragic day, the way he comported himself.

And the scripture says, "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." That's how he lived. No matter how physically difficult it was, he lived that way because he believed.

I had the blessing of a conversation with him a few years ago which grabbed me because it was so powerful and hopeful. And he was so hopeful about the NYPD and what it could do. He was so hopeful that the people of our neighborhoods could join shoulder to shoulder with our officers. He believed that that was the future and it was inspirational to me to hear if from a voice of that authority.

So, all I ask of each of us, every one of us, and I start with myself, when you get to that moment of decision when you wonder what you should do, ask yourself the question, what would Steven McDonald have done?

And it would probably be a good guide to living the right way. Just a few words in Spanish –

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

And one of these lines bears repeating that the work of our police is based in love and compassion for their fellow human beings. People who make this noble choice to join this department do it for their love of humanity, and no one exemplified that more than Detective Steven McDonald.

Thank you and God bless you all.


Lieutenant Tony Giorgio: And thank you so much, Mr. Mayor. And as the Mayor mentioned, I wanted to formally announce the former Mayor of the City of New York, the 106th Mayor, David N. Dinkins is here. Thank you, sir.


It is indeed my pride and pleasure to introduce the Police Commissioner of the City of New York, the Honorable James P. O'Neill.


Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill: Good morning everyone, and welcome to the Central Park Precinct. It's a little different from when I was here 20 years ago. I think there is some people in the back that understand that. This used to be the parking lot.

Mr. Mayor thanks for being here, Mayor Dinkins thanks for being here. Cardinal Dolan, thank you so much for being here this morning.

On the anniversary of Stevens's death we're here today to dedicate this important plaque of remembrance. And Patti it's always good to see you. Conor I've had the occasion quite a few times since Stevens passing last January, Patti always makes it a point to come up and pay me a visit. Sometimes, it's not sometimes, every time she comes up I know she's more concerned about me than herself. I'm trying to change that a little bit because I know since January 10th is been a big void in your life as well as Conor's and the whole McDonald family. But how you continue to be strong, and I'm sure you probably get tired of hearing that, how strong you are.

It's not an easy thing for people to say about you all the time. But you are, and what you do for the NYPD, what you've done for us over the last 30 years will never be forgotten, along with Steven. The first time I met Steven was probably right outside the front door when it was the parking lot. I've never met him before, I was the CO here. And the first time I met him I knew he was a special person. Now to be able to live your life incapacitated like that physically but certainly not mentality and to share that message of love is pretty special. I'm not sure if there is too many human beings on this planet that could do that. And the impact that he's had on the NYPD family probably much bigger than that on New York City and this country and beyond our borders is incredible.

Now you live a legacy of hope, of forgiveness, not hating but loving. And it's tough, and especially in the jobs that we have. You know the things that we see every day. You know sometimes that can leave you bitter and cynical. But his message and he brought it to everybody. And he brought it to Central Park Precinct; he brought it to police Precincts all around New York City. He brought it to schools all around the Metropolitan area. That's – people listened. And it's not always that people listen in 2016, 2015, 2018. They're paying attention to other things. But they listen to Steven. And Conor I couldn't be – I'm not sure if it's my place, but I couldn't be prouder of you. The work that you're doing now and your future in this department and carrying on your dad's legacy. You know who he is, you know the man he is. And every time you speak, I am listening.

The passion that you have not just for your dad and your mom but for what you do in that uniform and what you continue to do for many, many years is a gift to this department and a gift to this city. So, it's great that we're all here today. And it seems hard to believe that it's a year. It seems just like yesterday we were in the hospital and once again I was struck by your faith and Conor and [inaudible] and what you were thinking that day and how you're more concerned about everybody else than you were about yourself. I think that's what this world needs. You know, think beyond yourself. Think how you can make a difference. How can you continue to do good. And the people I see here in uniform I know you do, I know you make that difference. That's why you too these jobs.

So, I'll never forget Steven. And it's important that this plaque is here. I wish it could be bigger. I wish we could have it right on the outside wall and anybody that comes by these beautiful 843 acres gets a chance to see that. And if they're from out of town maybe they can say who is Steven McDonald? And somebody that works in this Precinct can tell them all about who Steven was and who he still is. That's probably the most important thing, who he still is. And how his legacy carries and gives us hope to live in peace and make this world a better place.

So once again thank you being here this morning and continue to think about Steven and all he managed to accomplish in his time on this earth and all he still manages to accomplish since his passing. Thank you very much, thanks.

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