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NYC Bombing Was First Big Test for New NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill

This Is How Investigators Tracked Down Bombings Suspect Ahmad Rahami 1:28

New York's new police commissioner didn't exactly have time to ease into the job.

Saturday night's explosion in Chelsea came on James O'Neill's first full day in the position after his predecessor, Bill Bratton, retired Friday.

Related: Complete Coverage of the NY/NJ Bombings

After suspect Ahmad Rahami was arrested during a shootout with New Jersey police on Monday, O'Neill admitted during a news conference to feeling the weight of his new role: "It's a pretty tough way to start my new position as police commissioner."

Image: Explosion In Chelsea Neighborhood of New York City Injures 29
New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill looks on during a press conference regarding Saturday night's explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, at New York City Police headquarters, September 18, 2016 in New York City. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

But it wasn't anything the veteran cop couldn't handle.

A Brooklyn native who goes by Jimmy, O'Neill's days with law enforcement began with the New York Transit Police in 1983. Over the years, he rose through the ranks, emphasizing his belief for "the need for police to evolve" to connect with the communities they serve.

That belief was put to the test during another high-profile moment in his career: When O'Neill was promoted to the NYPD's chief of the department in December 2014, he was almost immediately faced with protests over the police chokehold-related death of Eric Garner in Staten Island earlier that year.

O'Neill officially took the helm of the largest police department in America on Monday morning, as Linden police were arresting Rahami. Mayor Bill de Blasio praised O'Neill at the swearing-in ceremony for staying "calm, cool, collected" following the bombing, which injured 29 people.

"No one said this job would be easy," de Blasio said. "But I want to say on behalf of 8-1/2 million New Yorkers, we are so thankful that you have taken on the leadership of the NYPD. And you showed on your very first day what you were made of."