Roundtable: An assessment of NYC Mayor Eric Adams' first day in office

Police1 columnists review the optics of the former NYPD captain's day one as mayor of the Big Apple


By Police1 Staff

In the wee hours of January 1, former NYPD captain Eric Adams was sworn in as New York City Mayor. As a former police officer, the spotlight is on Adams at a time when our nation's largest city is dealing with a wave of violent crime that threatens to undo recent progress in reducing criminal activity. 

His first day on the job was a busy one. While riding the subway to City Hall, he called 911 to report a fight in progress, followed by a press conference to discuss an incident involving an NYPD officer who was struck by a bullet while resting in his personal car in a police parking lot between shifts.

He also briefed the press outside the NYPD’s 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, Queens, after he met with officers at the precinct during roll call.

We asked several Police1 columnists to assess Mayor Adam's messaging during his press conferences and how his messaging of support for LEOs could resonate nationwide. 

Messaging of support

The theme that Eric Adams, New York City’s new mayor, has assigned to his administration for the first 100 days is “GSD: Get Stuff Done.” Among the first tasks accomplished on day one was addressing NYPD officers during roll call at the 103rd Precinct in Queens, New York.

Mayor Adams’ messaging of support immediately after his visit of “having the backs” of police officers in the performance of their duties was a refreshing refrain from a newly elected official in a large city. His caveat of not tolerating abusive police behaviors in exchange for his support spoke to his past personal experiences, as well as to what is expected in the current climate.

With refunding the police in full swing across major cities that have suffered the impacts of the opposite approach, Mayor Adams’ promise for greater partnerships between police, local elected officials, community organizations and human services agencies could provide the roadmap that is now needed to institute viable, evidence-based changes in policing in American cities and communities in 2022 and beyond.

We are going to incentivize promotions based on those officers who are not only good crime fighters but are good crime preventors, something you do not hear about often." 
— NYC Mayor Eric Adams

By making sensible use of funding earmarked for crime prevention and adhering to his strong message that "the prerequisite to prosperity is public safety,” Mayor Adams underscores the necessity of police presence and public safety to counter social conditions that prevent progress for all people.

Mayor Adams is confident that those who say public safety and justice cannot coexist will be disproven. After years of ill-researched commentary and errant narrative creation by pundits, detractors, politicians and media figures, Adams is, in effect, creating the middle ground upon which true change-making law enforcement and community leaders have patiently waited to step foot. Echoing his messaging in jurisdictions across the nation will set police departments and their communities on the right course in 2022.

Janay Gasparini, Ph.D., is a proud former police officer who served as a police instructor, FTO and crime scene technician. She has taught collegiate criminal justice courses since 2009.

Speaking from the heart

On January 1, 2022, newly elected NYC mayor Eric Adams had his work cut out for him. He not only had to convey his vision for the city, he also was dealing with an officer who was shot by an errant bullet, and then on his way to city hall on the train called in an assault in progress – all while news media was capturing his every action.

He chose to conduct his first news conference at the 103rd precinct in Queens, New York. This was the same precinct where he, as a young man, was assaulted by officers. While his words were significant, the location, his professional demeanor and body language spoke volumes. He did without a prepared speech. He spoke from the heart and told New Yorkers and members of the NYPD what they need to hear – he has their back, and that public safety in NYC would be rebuilt on communication, partnerships and renewed efforts to prevent, as well as fight crime. 

We are committed to responsive, receptive, professional policing, an NYPD that listens with police officers that are as compassionate as they are committed to public safety. — NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell

It is important for members of the NYPD to hear the mayor will put into place support structures for cops who, in addition to dealing with a rise in violent crime, are now dealing with myriad quality-of-life issues that have become all too prevalent. Managing those issues regularly fall upon law enforcement – and as we all know, by the time police are dealing with a situation, other aspects of a supportive society have failed. 

The newly announced NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell videotaped a message for members and the community. Her message was forward-leaning, using words such as responsive, listening, compassionate, professional and committed – "on brand" words for the NYPD. She also employed inclusive, humble terms such as "your police department" and "working with you."

In both cases, the mediums and the messages were solid.  A strong start indeed for both the Mayor and the Commissioner.

Judy Pal is the founder and principal of 10-8 Communications LLC and conducts media training, communications counsel and virtual training for public safety. She is a former assistant commissioner with the NYPD and chief of staff with both the Baltimore and Milwaukee police departments.

Ringing in the New Year is the new administration for the City of New York

In a city with over 8 million people and a police department with over 35,000 sworn officers and a total of 55,000 personnel, Mayor Eric Adams enters 2022 in covenant with the police and the community.

He quickly established his backing of NYPD officers, clear obligations, responsibilities, and the need to create a balance of justice and accountability. He brings a unique viewpoint speaking as someone who has a perspective behind the badge and as a victim of police excessive force as a youth. Underscoring the dichotomy of his lived experience, Mayor Adams is quite aware that quality of life issues for the City of New York and the resources needed to support the women and men of NYPD cannot be bifurcated; they must act together in harmony.

In a broader scope of city of governance, leadership is leveraging behavioral science with academia to develop evidence-based approaches to address the pandemic and the foreboding harsh economic reality if COVID is not bridled. Additionally, he openly acknowledged the emotional responses of last year from mayors across the country in the reform and defund tsunami, noting those who chose to reallocate funds and reduce personnel are now facing unfavorable consequences. His approach comparatively will be more measured and evidence-based, focused on keeping an open, safe city with the help of the NYPD. Overall, Mayor Adams struck a chord of justice for everyone in his message that should be a model for leadership across the national landscape about shared public safety. 

— Jonni Redick retired as an assistant chief and 29-year veteran with the California Highway Patrol (CHP). She is the author of “Survival Guide to Law Enforcement Promotional Preparation“ and “Black, White & Blue: Surviving the Sifting.”

A clear message of hope and support

First impressions are meaningful. When I watched the New Year’s Day press conference from New York, Mayor Eric Adams had me at the start when he said of the NYPD: “We have their backs.” Of course, he followed up by saying that he will not tolerate malfeasance, but he sent a strong message that he will support the men and women of the NYPD in doing their job. It was amazing and so refreshing to hear.

Words spoken by powerful people convey powerful messages. Mayor Adams continued to say that in response to “the noise that says we cannot have public safety and justice, we can.” He maintained that we have in the NYPD “crime fighters and crime preventers; something we do not always hear about.”

In answering questions by the press, he said support needs to be given to officers to stop blatant crime and to be able to work at demonstrations and protests. He acknowledges this, even at a time when other politicians attempt to mollify both sides of the law enforcement and crime dichotomy. Surely he knows that there are detractors who will use his statements against him. Still, it is a powerful representation of support in clear and unambiguous terms to empower his police department, from line officers through administrators and the commissioner of the NYPD.

I did have reservations about his plan to hand off some offenders (albeit after an evaluation) if retail thefts are rooted in mental illness or hunger. The devil is in the details. We had good intentions when we diverted drug offenders with drug courts and diversion programs, but once we allowed drug dealers into the process, we promptly slid down the slippery slope. I will check my judgment at the door and wish the mayor success in this idea that removes police from areas sometimes better left to other professionals.

Still, I was encouraged by Mayor Adams and his clear message of hope and support for the men and women of the NYPD. I hope it is a message embraced by leaders across America to re-invest in our law enforcement professionals.

— James Dudley is a 32-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department where he retired as deputy chief of the Patrol Bureau and is the host of Police1's Policing Matters podcast

Turning a corner

The swearing in of Eric Adams as Mayor of New York City marks a major turning point in the United States.

It shows that even the most liberal of voters in the country are tired of the lies told by some politicians and the media about all law enforcement and the crime these politicians are directly responsible for. It also shows that people who have to live in communities led by the perpetrators of the “police are killers” lie that have demoralized and defunded police and released criminals at an alarming rate nationwide are rejecting this anti-law and order agenda resoundingly at the ballot box.

Police chiefs and sheriffs must inform their officers that this is a trend that will continue proving there is a bright light visible at the end of the tunnel, and all that officers need do, is continue being the professionals that they are and always have been and together we will see this through. They should further tell their officers to stay safe, stay strong and with the knowledge that we as a profession have turned a corner. Stay positive!

Lt. Dan Marcou is an internationally-recognized police trainer who was a highly-decorated police officer with 33 years of full-time law enforcement experience.

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