Manhattan, NY – Incoming New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Dermot Shea went to Reverend Al Sharpton’s anti-police National Action Network (NAN) headquarters to listen to his complaints about the city’s police force last week.
The hourlong sit-down also included attorneys and several clergy members, WABC reported.
“Great opportunity, great discussion here today,” Commissioner Shea told reporters after the meeting.
“I think a very productive discussion, areas of concern, and really, a first step in having a collaborative relationship moving forward, making sure that the police department is the police department for all,” he said.
The soon-to-be commissioner said that the meeting with Sharpton was the “first step” in establishing a “collaborative relationship,” according to a NAN press release.
“It’s very fitting that I’m here, I think, because I am the police commissioner to-be, of not the police department but of all New York, of 8.5 million New Yorkers,” he told reporters, according to WABC.
The NAN said that Sharpton “demanded an immediate meeting with Shea” following the announcement of his appointment as the police commissioner.
Sharpton said he plans to continue giving Commissioner Shea his input on a regular basis in the future.
“We agreed on some issues. We disagreed on others. And we said we are going to disagree, but we are going to dialogue,” he said, according to the NAN. “We are not going to tell you what you want to hear, we are going to tell you what you need to hear.”
Despite his sit-down with the incoming police commissioner, Sharpton said he still plans to speak with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to find out why he didn’t appoint First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker as the agency’s next top cop.
Sharpton said he was surprised to learn that the deputy commissioner, who is black, wasn’t promoted.
“First and foremost, we expressed to the soon-to-be commissioner that we were very concerned and surprised that Ben Tucker had been overlooked to be commissioner,” Sharpton told reporters, according to the New York Daily News. “Because of him [Shea] being chosen at a time when we felt Mr. Tucker had been overlooked for the second or third time, he comes with a sort of awkwardness that he inherits.”
New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said she believes Commissioner Shea understands that the black community does not trust law enforcement.
“This is a symbolic statement by the new commissioner of concern about policing about the black community and that’s an important statement,” Lieberman told the New York Daily News. “We know he is both inheriting low crime rates but low community trust, and I appreciate that he recognizes that as a problem.”
The incoming police commissioner’s term will begin on Dec. 1, according to WABC.