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James P. O'Neill

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James P. O'Neill[1]
43rd Police Commissioner of New York City
In office
September 16, 2016 – November 30, 2019
MayorBill de Blasio
Preceded byWilliam Bratton
Succeeded byDermot Shea
Chief of the New York City Police Department
In office
November 3, 2014 – September 16, 2016
Appointed byWilliam Bratton
MayorBill de Blasio
Preceded byPhilip Banks III
Succeeded byCarlos M. Gomez
Personal details
James Patrick O'Neill Jr.

1957 or 1958 (age 65–66)[1]
Alma materJohn Jay College

James Patrick "Jimmy" O'Neill Jr. is an American police officer who served as the 43rd Police Commissioner of New York City from September 2016 until November 2019. Prior to his appointment as Police Commissioner, O'Neill served as NYPD's Chief of Department, the highest uniformed position in the department, in 2014–2016.

In a meeting with the Mayor Bill de Blasio of October 31, 2019 O'Neill confirmed his intentions to depart the NYPD. On November 4, 2019 it was publicly announced that Dermot F. Shea would become the 44th Commissioner of the NYPD in a ceremony at 1 Police Plaza on December 1, 2019.

On November 6, 2019, O'Neill announced that he had accepted a position as Senior Vice President of Physical Security for the payments firm Visa. On April 1, 2020, it was announced that O'Neill would be appointed as an advisor to the New York City government on COVID-19.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

O'Neill was born to an Irish American family, the fourth of seven children, to Helen and Joseph O'Neill. He was raised in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn.[3] He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and a Master of Public Administration degree from John Jay College in New York City.[4]


O'Neill joined the New York City Transit Police in 1983, and began his career as a patrolman in Transit District 1. He was promoted to Sergeant in September 1987 and to Lieutenant in April 1991. In 1995, the transit police were merged into the NYPD. In 1997 he was promoted to Captain. Additional promotions were to Deputy Inspector in December 2001, to Inspector in August 2003, and to Deputy Chief in October 2005. On June 2, 2014, O'Neill was promoted to Chief of Patrol. Several months later, in November 2014, he was promoted to Chief of Department. In September 2016 he became police commissioner. On November 4, 2019, O'Neill resigned his post as Police Commissioner (effective early December 2019) and was replaced by former Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea.

Promotion to Chief of Department[edit]

On October 28, 2014, O'Neill became the Chief of Department for the NYPD's 36,000 uniformed officers, the highest-ranking uniformed position.[5]

Police commissioner[edit]

On August 2, 2016, O'Neill was appointed Police Commissioner of New York City by Mayor Bill de Blasio, effective September 2016.[6] O'Neill was succeeded as Chief of Department by Carlos M. Gomez. On November 4, 2019, O'Neill announced his retirement as commissioner, and was replaced by former Chief of Detectives Dermot F. Shea at month-end.[7]

Vapor wake canines[edit]

O'Neill widely deployed vapor wake canines in the city to alert their handlers to the presence of explosives; these dogs can then track the scent to potential bombers.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b Baker, Al; Goodman, J. David (August 3, 2016). "James O'Neill, Officer Since 1983, Will Step Into Police Dept.'s Top Job". New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  2. ^ O'Connell-Domenech, Jonathan Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech (April 1, 2020). "Former NYPD Commissioner O'Neill to be COVID-19 senior advisor". Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  3. ^ McGoldrick, Debbie (March 17, 2017). "Irish American NYPD Commissioner couldn't be prouder this St. Patrick's Day". IrishCentral. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  4. ^ "James O'Neill: 5 Fast Facts". newyork.cbslocal.com. CBS New York. August 2, 2016. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  5. ^ Goodman, J. David (October 28, 2014). "Shuffling of Top Assignments at New York Police Department". New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  6. ^ Goodman, J. David; Baker, Al (August 3, 2016). "William Bratton, New York Police Commissioner, Will Step Down Next Month". New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  7. ^ Southall, Ashley; Watkins, Ali (November 4, 2019). "Dermot Shea Appointed New N.Y.P.D. Commissioner as O'Neill Resigns". New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  8. ^ Re, Gregg (November 23, 2017). "NYPD to use secret weapon at Thanksgiving Day Parade: 'Vapor Wake' retrievers". Fox News. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  9. ^ Leshan, Bruce (December 11, 2017). "Super 'Vapor Wake' dogs track explosive trail to bombers". WUSA. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
Police appointments
Preceded by Police Commissioner of New York City
Succeeded by
Preceded by NYPD Chief of Department
Succeeded by