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Saluting Mike Shea’s many years of service

Back in the day! It’s the Midtown North Precinct and pictured are then Lieutenant Mike Shea on the left, Lieutenant Chris Haggerty in the middle, and this writer, then Sergeant Brian McCabe, on the right.


By Brian McCabe

There are times when change, which is as inevitable as the passing of the seasons, signifies more than the mere occurrence of that change. Such is the case with the imminent retirement of Assistant Chief Mike Shea, Commanding Officer of the NYPD Office of Labor Relations.

Mike’s retirement, after a long and very successful career, marks another milestone in the historic, collective story of the Irish in the New York Police Department.

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As the ranks of the NYPD reflect more the reality of the multicultural demographic of the city in 2020, and rightfully so, Mike represents the old school of proud Irish and Irish-American service in the ranks of the Long Blue Line.

Chief Shea is a third generation New York City civil servant, son of an immigrant father from County Kerry, and a mother, God rest her, whose parents emigrated from County Cork.

Mike Shea is a proud resident of the Bronx, or as some prefer to make the distinction, Riverdale specifically.

Mike hit the ground running with his career in the NYPD, graduating from the Police Academy with the Mayor’s Award as class valedictorian in December, 1985.

Mike’s early years on the job saw assignments to pre-gentrification Manhattan North and Bronx commands, as police officer and sergeant. While in the sergeant rank he also served as a delegate for the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association.

Upon promotion to Lieutenant in 1996, Mike was assigned to the Midtown North Precinct on the West Side of Manhattan. I had the pleasure of working with him during a time when many storied adventures occurred. He was subsequently promoted to Captain in 1998.

After service as Executive Officer in both the 41 and 19 Precincts, Mike was named Commanding Officer of the 20th Precinct in 1999. On September 11, 2001, Mike was among the ranks that responded to lower Manhattan on that cataclysmic day.

After promotion to Deputy Inspector in 2002, Mike was assigned to the Office of the Police Commissioner where his duties included the NYPD’s preparation for, and response to, such historic events as the 2003 Blackout, 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD deployment to Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 transit strike, and the papal visit of 2008.

In 2004, Mike was designated Executive Officer of the Police Commissioner’s office and promoted to full Inspector.

Named Deputy Chief in 2006, Mike was designated Commanding Officer of the Police Commissioner’s Office. Promoted to Assistant Chief in 2010, he was subsequently made Commanding Officer of the Personnel Bureau in 2012.

Mike’s career achievements, in addition to his promotions, include seven Meritorious Police Duty awards and twenty-one awards for excellent police duty. In 1991, Mike was named the New York Finest Foundation Cop of the Month for his role in the arrest of two individuals wanted for a series of gunpoint robberies, including the gunpoint robbery and attempted murder of an Assistant District Attorney.

In addition to his many career accomplishments, Mike was also very prominent in the promotion of Irish cultural, athletic, and civic pursuits, including being one of the inaugural recipients of the awards being given this week. In 2010 he was named one of the Irish Echo’s Law and Order honorees.

He has also received honors from the Emerald Society Pipe Band, the NYPD Gaelic Football Club, Retired Detectives of the NYPD, The FBI National Academy Associates Fahy Humanitarian Award, the Great Irish Fair’s Patrolman Edward Byrne Memorial Award, the New York Blood Center for having donated over thirteen gallons of blood to the NYPD Blood Donor Program, and community, civic and business awards too numerous to detail.

Mike has mentored and supported many in the NYPD rank and file through the years, and is richly deserving of the appreciation of all who care about New York City for what has been a stellar career of service.

Mike leaves as his legacy a tradition in the NYPD culture that, despite the demographic changes that must occur, will always retain an Irish sense of service, devotion and, at times, a special humor and understanding of life without which policing is well-nigh impossible.