The Putnam Examiner

Jimmy O’Neill Remembered as Advocate for Law Enforcement

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One of Putnam County’s strongest advocates for law enforcement died Sunday in an apparent heart attack, leaving friends and family in shock and grieving the loss of Jimmy O’Neill.

O’Neill was president and founder of the Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge, a chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, and a retired New York City Police detective, who was well-known in the county for his exhaustive work and dedication to law enforcement throughout the entire region.

Friends remembered him as someone always seeking to help others and a pillar of the law enforcement community.

FOP band manager and a close friend of O’Neill, Gail Driscoll-Silke, said O’Neill’s “unselfish love will never be forgotten.”

She’ll always remember soon after the horrific events of 9/11, O’Neill told her that the community would never forget the sacrifices Stephen Driscoll, a NYPD officer, made after he died on that tragic day. He started a Fraternal Order of Police chapter, the Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge, in Gail’s brother’s name and it now had hundreds of men and women as members.

Even as recently as Friday night, O’Neill and Driscoll-Silke were out with friends and O’Neill was discussing a fundraiser he was planning.

“Jimmy was the doer,” she said. “No one is ever going to replace Jimmy.”

The loss is so great, Driscoll-Silke said, it reminds her of how she felt when her brother died more than a decade ago.

“I’ll always love him, he’ll be missed,” Driscoll-Silke said. “I’m glad he’s with my brother.”

Outgoing Assemblyman Steve Katz heard about O’Neill’s death Monday morning and was shocked by the news. He described O’Neill as fiercely loyal. When the Patrolman Benevolent Association endorsed an opponent of Katz, it was O’Neill and FOP that stuck with Katz regardless. He called him a great friend and one of his closest political allies in his district.

Katz added he was a “highly valued contributor” to the community and tirelessly gave his time to help police officers in the region and throughout New York State. O’Neill ensured police officers got the respect and benefits they deserved for their dedication, Katz noted.

The last time he spoke with O’Neill was roughly a month ago at a political event. The two embraced in a big hug and caught up.

“He was engaged, he was absolutely out for the people he was serving in the community,” Katz said. “And he did it with such grace and love and people who knew him, which was just about everyone in the district, had nothing but wonderful warm feelings toward him. And he will be sorely missed by me, that’s for sure.”

Sheriff Don Smith expressed his deepest condolences to O’Neill’s family, including his wife Kathy and son James Jr. He called O’Neill an “icon in the police community” and a “consummate cop’s cop.”

Smith recalled O’Neill as someone who always made sure families of fallen law enforcement were properly taken care and received comfort. He would arrange funerals for fallen officers, start fundraisers for their families and gather support to build police memorials, Smith said.

“Jimmy worked tirelessly and selflessly to champion causes that were important to police officers and emergency first responders,” Smith stated. “Thanks to Jimmy’s efforts, our communities are better and safer places today.”




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