July 2, 2018
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Congratulations, officers. Doesn’t that sound good?
Congratulations to all of you. This is a joyous day for you, for your family, and for all of New York City because we are here to celebrate what you have achieved. And I want to just acknowledge from the very beginning, this was a long and difficult road getting to this moment. You made a choice to step forward, take on an incredibly important mission. But it also came with a whole lot of work and preparation.
And it is a sign of your commitment, an indicator of how absolutely you believe in the mission ahead that you overcame all the challenges, all the obstacles, to get to this day. And I want you to know we are very, very proud of you.
I want to thank everyone who helped you get to this day because no one gets here alone. The support of your family all along, your friends, all the people who encouraged you that was crucial to your success here today. So, I want to take a moment to salute the family members who are here and say thank you to all of you for making this possible as well.
And officers, you are now part of what is without question the greatest police force in the world.
You have joined a winning team. And I want to give credit also to the people up here on the dais who helped make the NYPD as great as it is today. I want to thank in particular our Commissioner, Jimmy O’Neill, for his extraordinary leadership.
And First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker, Chief of Department Terry Monahan – all of the leadership of the NYPD. Let’s thank them.
I want to thank all of our partners who are here from the federal level, the State level, all the different police forces represented. We all do this work together. In today’s NYPD there’s a big focus on partnership with our federal and state colleagues.
And I want to thank all of them – particularly thank for being here U.S. Attorney Geoff Berman and F.B.I Assistant Director in Charge Bill Sweeney. It means a lot to us to have you here today. I want to thank the D.A. of the Bronx, Darcel Clark, for joining us today. Thank you to all. And also a thanks to those who represent the hard-working men and women of the NYPD. I want to thank PBA President Pat Lynch and –
And the President of the Detectives’ Endowment Association – and this is a very special moment for Mike Palladino because his son, Joseph, is graduating today. Congratulations to the Palladino family.
Today, this city gains 726 new protectors, 726 new guardians who will be here for all of us.
And here’s what’s amazing, every single one of you will change people’s lives for the better. You will encounter, in the course of your work, people in moments of tremendous distress. Because of you, some will live who would not have lived. Because of you, families will be whole that would have been torn apart.
You’ll literally be able to see the ripples of your good work play out over years and decades. There will be children who know their parents because of your lifesaving work. I can’t think of anything more noble.
And what’s beautiful about this is this is a city admired all over the world because we bring together all of humanity and we make it work together. People of literally every faith, every background, every nationality, and somehow here in this city it’s not perfect but we make it work.
This class represents the greatness of all the communities of this city. You hail from 41 countries, you speak 47 different languages. You are New York City. You’re the best of New York City. And we’re very proud of you for that.
And you come into this work at a very exciting moment because the NYPD has done something that, for many, was thought to be impossible. Crime has been driven down consistently and it has been done in large measure through the combination of precision policing and neighborhood policing. Strategies that have developed over years and years have been perfected in recent years, that are drawing our communities and our officers closer together in common cause, in partnership.
And it makes a world of difference when you know community members are your side and they know you’re on their side too. When that sense of a true bond grows, that’s what neighborhood policing is doing more and more. We see it playing out every day around this city and we know what a difference it will make.
And we know that every one of you brings your own story, your own history, your own understanding that will make you a great officer. You’ll draw on everything you’ve learned in your life and from your family and in your neighborhood, and it will help you relate to the people in this city. Each one of you has a story and so many extraordinary stories that are represented here, I want to offer you one and I hope it’s one that a lot of you in one way or another share in common. This is about a young man who dreamed of becoming the police commissioner of this city. Jimmy, you got a while, it is okay, no competition yet – one member of this class, but I hope there are a lot of members of this class that think about what you’re starting and want to make a long career of it and want to rise up through the ranks to one day be on this stage. I want to tell you the story of Abdullah Ramzen. He was born in a small city in Pakistan, came to this country as a young man and went to John Jay College. And while at John Jay College, perfected his vision for his future, his goal is to become police commissioner. Abdullah congratulations today, I wish you good luck. I think you are going to have a lot of great competition and that’s going to make New York City better, congratulations Abdullah.
For those of you like Joseph Palladino and I know there are many, many more who are following a family tradition – I want to thank you, I want to commend you, it’s one of the beautiful things about the NYPD, generation after generation of some families have chosen this noble work. And we commend you all. And there’s another group I want to commend and I have such an admiration for them because they have chosen a life of public service not once but twice – in this graduating class, are 62 new NYPD officers who previously served our nation in our Armed Forces, let’s salute them and thank them.
So now the work begins, and it’s work that is meant for bold and courageous people. It’s meant for brave people, it’s meant for people who see danger and recognize that they have the ability to address it. That kind of bravery is admired so deeply in this city and that’s what we know we will see from all of you. There’s a sad note on this good day that a few days ago we lost a young man who aspired to sit here. He was only 15-years-old but he was already a part of the NYPD Explorers Program, he wanted so badly to be a police officer. His particular goal was to become a detective. Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz and as we all know here, his life cut short so brutally by a gang that knew no decency, no morality, we will remember Junior, will remember his goodness, will remember what he hoped to achieve and we will tell his story to others to inspire them to take his place. I also want to thank the NYC Police Foundation for creating a scholarship in Junior’s name for the Explorers Summer Academy so other good, young people will have the opportunity.
And I want to thank all of the members of the NYPD who have brought these heinous individuals who attacked Junior to justice.
I’ll finish with this point. A winning team, a championship team is not one that rests on its laurels. It’s not one that wins and then says we’ve had enough, but wants to win again and keep getting better. That’s what the NYPD is. I’ve been so struck over these last four and half years by the energy, the vigor, the focus of the leadership of this department on always figuring a way to get better and that factors deeply into something that all of the family members need to know –which is the commitment of all of us to provide these good young men and women with the very best tools, the best technology, the best training, all of the things that will help to keep them safe. It’s our responsibility to protect your loved ones because they protect all of us and we know that it is a sacred responsibility. So I conclude by saying to everyone, what an extraordinary day, what a day of accomplishment, what a day that you rightfully will celebrate for the rest of your life. Officers we are so proud of you, congratulations and God bless you all.
Lieutenant Giorgio: And thank you so much, Mr. Mayor. As the Mayor alluded to, the captain of this winning team sat in the seats right there in 1983. It’s indeed my pride and privilege 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.
Audience: Good morning.
Commissioner O’Neill: Hey, Abdullah, I heard you wanted to be the Police Commissioner. Maybe we can have a little conversation – tell you a couple of things.
They’re laughing behind me, they know what I mean.
Just – to the men and women sitting in front of me, smile a little bit, alright? You’re done. The way you took that oath was very impressive, but the first time you talk to somebody on the street, please don’t talk to them like that. Don’t yell at them, just say hello, alright? Start with a hello and a smile.
Good morning, everyone, and thanks for being here. On behalf of the leadership team assembled here, Mayor de Blasio, and the entire New York City Police Department, welcome to our recruit graduation ceremony, and to our newest police officers, welcome to the NYPD. I know it wasn’t easy to get in those seats. I did it 35-and-a-half years ago. I also know there are many different careers you could have chosen, and many different directions in which your lives could have gone, but, at the end of the day, you chose to become cops, and so, for that, I want to say, thank you, because it’s not an easy choice, and it’s not one that you or your family should ever take lightly. Police work – although, I know it’s the greatest job in the world – is not for everyone. To be honest, most people couldn’t handle the challenges of this job, of this city. But, as you’ve proven to your instructors, to your families, and, most importantly, to yourselves over the past six months, you’re not most people. Think about that for a second. Let it sink in.
You’re now NYPD Police Officers. Think about how proud that makes you feel, because that’s the secret to success in this department. That pride you feel right now, you should carry that with you every single day for the rest of your careers. If you do that, you’ll know you’re doing it right.
I’ve been a cop now for 35-and-a-half years, and I still wake up each day grateful for the opportunity to work in the greatest police department in the world with the best cops and civilians in the business. We’re all incredibly fortunate to do what we do, and our work has never been more meaningful to the people we serve. Most of you graduating today are too young to really remember when there were more than 2,200 homicides and 5,000 shootings per year in New York City. That was in the early 90’s, so it really wasn’t that long ago, and, back then, there were many people who considered this city beyond saving. They figured that this level of violent crime and disorder was just the price for doing business here, that it was normal and nothing could be done about it.
There were others though who refused to believe that, who refused to accept that life in our city couldn’t change for the better, and chief among those idealists were the men and women of the NYPD. NYPD cops knew those statistics weren’t just numbers, they were people, they were lives.
So, last year, when we pushed murders and shootings down to levels we hadn’t seen in three generations, it literally meant thousands of lives had been saved and thousands of families have been kept intact. And that, more than anything else, is the legacy of the NYPD. And now, it’s your legacy. This is a tremendous responsibility, because building that legacy hasn’t been easy. A lot of time away from family, missed birthdays, first steps, anniversaries, and other opportunities to be with those we love. And this isn’t a regular job – like I said earlier, it’s not for everyone. You’re going to be working on the weekends, on holidays, including two days from now – Fourth of July.
That’s right. It’ll be a great day though. I’m sure it won’t be too hot.
But I can tell you, this job, without a doubt, is the best job in the world. Every single day you’re out there helping people making a difference in people’s lives. It doesn’t get any better or more special than that. So, no matter what you do on this job, no matter what role you end up in, make sure you understand what your number-one priority is – and that’s the fight crime and keep the people of this great city safe. That’s it, pure and simple – you took this job because you wanted to make a difference. You wanted to do good, and here you are. And each day that you go out there and interact with the people that live, work, and visit all of our neighborhoods, never forget that. Make sure you listen to their stories, tell them your story too – tell them why you became a cop. Never underestimate what these personal interactions mean to people.
To all the family members and friends of our graduates here today, thank you for your support of these young men and women. We always say that cops have the greatest job in the world, and we really do, but you, our families, you have the hardest jobs, the most difficult jobs. It doesn’t matter whether the person you’re here for today is the first member of your family to become a cop, or their the latest in the long tradition of public service. Either way, I know the mixture of emotions that you’re feeling right now. I know that you’re proud, excited, apprehensive, maybe even a little bit afraid. And I want you to know this – you may have walked into this theater with one son, daughter, niece, nephew, brother or sister, but you’re walking out of here with about 36,000 more family members. Because when police officers swear the oath we just heard, the NYPD swears an oath to those officers too. This Department and this City promise to honor them, to protect them, and to never forget their commitment to the people of New York. And always, those promises extent to their loves ones as well.
Remember, three years ago at our Memorial Wall ceremony, honoring NYPD heroes we’ve lost in the line of duty, I met the son of one of those heroes – Corey Titus. Corey’s dad, Detective William Titus, spent time working at Ground Zero, the largest rescue and recovery job in our nation’s history, then he spent another six months as an investigator at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, work that eventually lead to the cancer that took him from us just two years later. Even though I didn’t personally know Detective Titus, I got to know Corey as we talked at various events, honoring his dad and others. I got to know him well enough to give him some grief when he decided to join the Fire Department.
I meant that in a good way, we love our brothers and sisters in the Fire Department.
Now, one day, Corey told me he had decided to finally come over to our side. I remember his mom was there, and I’m sure hearing that her son was going to become a cop like his dad couldn’t have been easy for her. So, I turned to her and I told her what I’m telling all of you here today – someone will always be looking out for your son or for you family member, that’s what it means to be a family. And from the Police Commissioner, down to the most recently hired recruit, that’s a promise.
So, congratulations, Police Officer Titus. Let’s give him a round of applause.
I want to thank the dedicated instructors and staff of the Police Academy and our Training and Personnel bureaus for preparing these newest Police Officers for their careers ahead. And finally, to our new cops, never forget who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Don’t ever doubt what you mean to the people of this great city. It’s my great privilege to welcome you to our NYPD family as we make our way forward together.
Good luck. Take care of all 8.6 million people in this city, and each other, and always stay safe.
Thank you very much.