October 8, 2015
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you. Thank you.
Good morning, recruits.
Recruits: Good morning, Sir.
Mayor: Alright, good, lively group. Now, I want to thank, first of all, Lieutenant Giorgio, who does these ceremonies so well – thank you, Lieutenant, for your leadership.
Recruits, I want to tell you it is an honor to be here with you this morning – 678 of you joining the finest police force in this nation, the finest police force on this earth. This is an extraordinary moment for each and every one of you in your lives, for your families, but it’s a great moment for New York City as well, to have you joining in such crucial work.
I want you to know – you are joining a winning team. You’re joining a winning team that has been doing extraordinary things.
For over 20 years, the NYPD has made this city safer and safer. It’s now a known fact – it’s something talked about all over the country, all over the world – we are the safest big city in America. And you now get to take that winning tradition and build upon it.
Progress is being made each and every day, but it takes new blood, it takes new talent to take that and make it even greater, and that’s where you come in, and we are very proud of you and very appreciative that you have made this decision to protect and to serve the people of New York City.
I want you to know, a winning team – winning team – you can tell several characteristics. The winning team is talked about as a model, as an example. You know the NYPD is talked about everywhere. I talk to mayors all over the country, and they want to know how the NYPD does it. They constantly want to come to New York and visit. They want to see CompStat, they want to see all the things that work in New York to figure out how they can do it too.
And you know a winning team by their record. This last summer, an extraordinary accomplishment, the safest summer in New York City in over 20 years – June, July, and August put together – the safest summer in over 20 years because of the work the men and women of the NYPD, working more closely than ever with community members in partnership, to keep us safe. Last year, the fewest murders in half a century in this city because the NYPD is not only the best, but getting better all the time.
So that’s a winning team by any definition, and now you will make it even better.
Let me acknowledge and thank everyone here on the dais, but I particularly want to single out Commissioner Bratton.
When I told you about all those mayors who talk to me, well, they are particularly focused on CompStat, and they want to understand how such an extraordinary change happened in this city and then how it continues to get better all the time. Well, Commissioner Bratton deserves such credit for having shown us now over two decades ago that we could make a big and profound change in how we police and how we bring success to every corner of this city.
If you study the history – and I urge you to do so – there were a lot of naysayers. I’m sure Commissioner Bratton’s put all of them out of his mind by now, but there were many naysayers at the time who said CompStat wasn’t going to work, New York City couldn’t be made safe. There were many people who didn’t believe the innovation would work. And now, 20-plus years later, the numbers speak for themselves. The safety you can feel in so many of our neighborhoods speaks for itself. The fact that the innovation continues – one thing I appreciate deeply about the commissioner and this leadership team is they never rest on their laurels. I can tell you from all the meetings we have – every week, there’s always a discussion – what’s the next thing, the next big change, the next big innovation, the next big reform. That is the mark, too, of a winning team.
I want to thank Commissioner Bratton. I want to thank First Deputy Commissioner Tucker and all of the leadership here today. Why don’t give you them another round of applause for all they do?
And I also want to thank someone who represents you in all the work you do – the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Pat Lynch. Pat, thank you very much for being here.
Now, we made a decision in this city back in June. There was a long discussion and the decision was made, and I want to give the City Council their credit, and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Working together with our administration, working together with Commissioner Bratton, we made the determination to add to this police force. And so, together, we added 1,300 new officers to an already great police force. 1,300 new officers who will start to have an impact on this city in 2016 in a very big way, I believe, because a new generation of police officers will bring with them not only the best talent, but now the best training, the best insights into how to do this work. Every new generation brings us even more. You are going to be part of that history. You’re going to be part of bringing even more to this police force and taking us to places we have not yet been.
And again, if anyone asks the question, well, how can you go even farther? I remind you again of what happened back in 1994 and all the people who said it was not possible to make the changes and reach new goals. I think the way to greatness is to always believe there’s something better around the corner – there’s something we haven’t yet seen. You’re going to be part of that change. You’re going to be part of reaching higher.
You answered the call. And I always say with events like this, it’s a rare person who answers the call. Just think about it – I’m sure you know plenty of friends, family members, folks who you went to school with, who were great people, but wouldn’t have had the particular make-up to answer this call. They might want to do a lot of good things in the world, but they wouldn’t have necessarily had the strength and the character to make this decision, take on this challenge.
People respect and admire each and every one of you for stepping up, and being ready to protect people no matter what’s thrown at you – and you know about New York City. The one thing you can expect each and every day out on those streets, the one thing you can expect is the unexpected. But you know that. And you’re ready for that.
Tough job, yes, but one of the most gratifying, because you will always see the fruits of your labor. You will always know what you’ve done for your fellow New Yorker. You’ll see the lives that you saved, the people you protected, tragedies you averted. You’ll see the families, the children who you changed the trajectory of their lives. You will see lives that were different and better because you were there at that moment. I can’t think of anything more compelling to devote your life to.
This police department continues to reach every New Yorker. One of the great things about the NYPD is every corner of this city is served with such energy, with such focus. And one of the things that this class represents is a police department drawing from all of the talent of every great neighborhood, all of our proud immigrant traditions who have made this city great.
We are the ultimate city of immigrants – and by the way, we’re one of the most successful cities in the history of the world. Everyone’s looking to New York City right now. We remind them this city is great because it’s a city built upon wave upon wave of folks who came and brought their talent from all over the world.
This class is one of the most diverse in the history of New York City. Recruits in this class hail from 36 different countries and speak 22 different languages, which reflects the totality of this great city. 20 percent of this class is female; nearly 10 percent Asian; 13 percent African American. And one thing I truly appreciate about this class, people bring a lot different experiences, and one of the most powerful experiences a number of you bring – 60 of you have served in our armed forces. And let’s give a round of applause to all of them and thank them.
So people of so many backgrounds, so many experiences with a common thread – ready to serve. A powerful common thread.
Each of you has a story that brought you here. Each of you – again, you’re different – something separated you from everyone else, because you were willing to step forward. Each of you has a story that made you different.
Let me give you one.
One of the people sitting here today, Natasha Velez, granddaughter of retired police officer Miguel Velez. Her grandfather was shot in a brutal incident in 1962. He survived – thank God – and he went on for 20 more years to proudly serve in the NYPD. Now Natasha is carrying on that family tradition, and making this police force better. Think about that – you see something, a tragedy befall a family member, and the strength of her grandfather, determining to stay on the police force and continue to protect people – that now handed down to his granddaughter. That’s a great example of the kind of character in this class. Let’s give Natasha a round of applause.
And I should note that she is among the 32 percent of this class who are Latino and Latina – the highest percentage ever for an NYPD recruit class – again, more and more reflecting all the greatness of this city.
So you understand the commitment it takes. You understand there will be sacrifice. There will be challenges. But you understand the extraordinary rewards. You understand that you’re carrying on an unparalleled legacy – and you’re now part of a new era.
There is something exciting about joining a winning team. There’s also something exciting about building a new history, building a new chapter. This era is going to be defined by a philosophy that we are safest when police and community are closest, when that bond is deepest – that when our police both protect and respect the community and the community protects and respects the police, that’s the sweet spot, that’s the transcendent moment that we have been reaching for, that police leaders and police forces all over the country are more and more moving toward, that partnership, that bond.
So you will be trained in the newest approaches, in the most modern approach to policing, you will be trained in the most sophisticated way to really achieve neighborhood policing. It’s something, again, that’s been reached for for years and years in many places, but you’re going to be part of the generation that achieves it – that full connection between neighborhood and police.
People are going to see everything you do as a continuation of their lives and their community, and they are going to feel a connection to you, a sense that they need to understand what you need, too, to give you the information you need, to be your colleagues in the work of keeping them safe.
I have great faith that this approach is going to work, and I have particular faith because this extraordinary facility and the great people who work here are so able to help you learn to be the best. And I have great faith because this commissioner has shown us time and time again when you reach for the stars what amazing things can happen.
You will be the ones to take us to this new era. And you will be heroes because you’re going to prove that there’s even something greater we can reach.
Keep this city safe. Help us make it safer. Be an example of a simple concept – safer streets through stronger bonds. Safer streets through stronger bonds between police community makes all the sense in the world, but you will be the ones to prove it’s so possible, and we’re going to reach it.
With that, it is my distinct honor to now issue to you the Oath of Office.
Mayor: I do hereby pledge – I’m sorry, I should say repeat after me – I do hereby pledge and declare –
Recruits: I do hereby pledge and declare –
Mayor: – to uphold the Constitution of the United States –
Recruits: – to uphold the Constitution of the United States –
Mayor: – and the Constitution of the State of New York –
Recruits: – and the Constitution of the State of New York –
Mayor: – and faithfully discharge my duties –
Recruits: – and faithfully discharge my duties –
Mayor: – as a New York City Police Officer –
Recruits: – as a New York City Police Officer –
Mayor: – to the best of my ability –
Recruits: – to the best of my ability –
Mayor: – so help me God.
Recruits: – so help me God.
Mayor: Congratulations, recruits, and God bless you all.