Retired NYPD Captain Going From Borough to Borough to Rally for Police

Joseph Concannon speaking at the rally in Queens.
Joseph Concannon speaking at the rally in Queens.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio has spent much of the last several weeks trying to patch over the rift between his office and the NYPD rank and file, a former police captain is launching a one-man crusade against an administration that he says remains hostile to police.

Joseph Concannon, a 25-year veteran of the NYPD and president of the Queens Village Republican Club, says the mayor has repeatedly hung his ex–comrades in blue out to dry with "dangerous" and "divisive rhetoric" over the past two years — most notably since protests and anti-police sentiment erupted after a grand jury decided in December not to indict the police officer believed to be responsible for the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

"[De Blasio] has consistently given an incredible sway in his language and in his management style to let the anarchists and some of the people in New York City just do whatever they want," says Concannon. "It is important that every New Yorker has a voice, but it has to be done in a controlled manner. We can't let chaos take over the streets."

For these reasons, he is organizing a series of citywide rallies to let officers know that they are not alone and to acknowledge the daily risks that law enforcement personnel take to keep the city safe.

"Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the [police] radio never stops. And it is a New York City police officer that is responding whether you like it or not," says Concannon. "The police are the thin blue line that separates civilization from chaos."

He is quick to dismiss accusations that the rallies — about 400 people turned out to the first event, held January 13 outside Queens Borough Hall — are anti–de Blasio campaigns or a sort of #BlueLivesMatter protest, as they have "nothing to do with race and everything to do with public safety." It is also about preventing communities from returning to the city's crime-ridden past.

"With mayors [Rudy] Giuliani and [Michael] Bloomberg watching [the NYPD's] backs, our city was transformed," he says. "We cannot lose what we have gained in the prevention and suppression of crime, disorder, and fear, and return our communities and our streets to the ruling drug, homicide, and street gangs foreshadowed by the anarchy and chaos we have recently witnessed," he says.

Concannon for a time served as Giuliani's deputy director of public safety. In 2013, he unsuccessfully ran for City Council as a Reform Party candidate with a campaign slogan identical to the cause he holds up today: "Support Your Local Police." More recently the motto has become a rallying cry for the pro-police demonstrations he has scheduled in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx. He has yet to schedule an event for Manhattan.

Concannon says he cares about the NYPD and understands its frustrations. Through his rallies, he hopes to create a platform for fellow New Yorkers who feel the same way. Many New Yorkers, he adds, are disappointed with elected City Council officials for not challenging the mayor during the entire anti-police saga.

"None of them said, 'Hold on, Mr. Mayor, you can't paint the entire NYPD as racist and abusive,' " says Concannon. "All we heard was deafening silence."

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to emails from the Voice seeking comment.

Concannon will hold his next rally on January 20 at 6 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Email the author: Follow on Twitter: @irenecnwoye

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