The announcement came after the city suffered from three murders in six days.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Fulop said the JCPD and JCFD will each retain their own department chiefs.
Shea was selected after Fulop used private funds to retain Vigilant Resources International to head up a national search for a public safety director. Former New York Fire Department and NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir is a principal with Vigilant Resources International.
Shea, who said Thursday he plans to move to Jersey City, has most recently served as deputy chief of the NYPD and is responsible for the Youth and Gang Crime Division, focusing on the expansion and enhancement of the division and targeting a reduction in gang violence.
Other recent assignments have included commanding some of the toughest areas, working on issues such as robberies, street crime and terrorism.
For two years, Shea served as commanding officer of the NYPD Contingent for the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force, overseeing national security investigations, conducting briefings of threats and investigations up to the White House level, coordinating the planning and deployment for emergency management and high level special events, as well as coordinating personnel from more than 50 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
During his tenure with the NYPD, Shea also served as the commanding officer of the 49 and 47 precincts in the Bronx, leading more than 300 uniformed and civilian personnel and overseeing all law enforcement operations within two communities each with more than 100,000 residents. In the Bronx, Shea designed, developed and implemented crime control and public safety functions including supervision of operations, investigations, training, budgeting, and quality control, as well as analyzing criminal and demographic trends and indicators for presentation to community groups, elected officials, and the media.
Shea also served as commanding officer of the NYPD’s Citywide Robbery Division and the NYPD Police Academy, and has worked in a supervisory role in Manhattan’s Organized Crime Control Bureau and in the NYPD’s Patrol Services Bureau for the 28th, 9th, and 46th Precincts.
At the press conference Thursday Shea told the Reporter he supports the creation of volunteer citizen-led community patrols when such volunteers are “properly trained and properly motivated.”
He also told the Reporter that he has a “very good’ relationship with “all communities in New York City, including the city’s communities of color."
The NYPD has in recent years sometimes had a strained relationship with New York’s African American and Latino communities. Shea said he does not expect to have that problem in Jersey City.
“Jersey City has been dealing with serious public safety issues for some time, which my administration is committed to addressing immediately,” said Mayor Fulop. “James has both the experience, knowledge, and management skills to implement real change as it relates to public safety and I am confident he will lead Jersey City on the right path toward reducing crime and making our city one of the safest mid-size cities in America.”
“Having led two busy precincts in the Bronx, James has the management experience to oversee public safety operations in a city as large and diverse as Jersey City,” Fulop added. “With James’ specific experience in gang and youth violence, as well as terrorism and homeland security issues, he stood out as an ideal candidate for the position of Public Safety Director.”
Shea, a former United States Marine, is also a graduate of the Police Management Institute at Columbia University School of Business and holds a BS in police science from the City University of New York.
Shea’s appointment must still be approved by the City Council, which will vote on his appointment at its next meeting on Wednesday, July 31 at 6 p.m.
The creation of the public safety director position has been controversial.
Current ward C City Councilman Richard Boggiano, a retired JCPD officer, has said that Jersey City has twice tried having a public safety director oversee bother the JCFD and the JCPD, “and both times it failed.”
Rank and file officers and firefighters have expressed dismay over the process by which Shea was hired. While Fulop said Shea was selected after a “national search,” current members of the JCFD and JCPD have said they were not notified of the search or how to apply for the position.
For more on what Shea and Fulop plan to improve public safety, see this weekend of the Jersey City Reporter. – E. Assat Wright