By Alex Robinson
The NYPD’s second in command was honored by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown last week at a Black History Month event in the prosecutor’s offices.
NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III was presented with the William Tucker Garvin Public Service Award for his years of public service.
“Chief Banks has long been hailed for his successful efforts in building relationships between the NYPD and the communities it serves, particularly in enhancing the lives of young people and steering them away from crime,” Brown said at the ceremony.
Banks joined the Police Department in 1986 after he attended Columbia and Harvard universities. Banks was a precinct commander in three different precincts and also served as chief of the department’s Community Affairs Bureau in 2010.
He rose steadily through the ranks until he was appointed to his current position last March. Banks is only the second African-American to reach the prestigious rank.
“He’s proven time and again he is not only an outstanding field commander and manager of police personnel and operations, but also as a bridge builder to the community,” Brown said. “But most importantly, he’s a resident of Queens.”
Banks was rumored to be in the runnings to become Mayor Bill de Blasio’s police commissioner and city Public Advocate Letitia James publicly expressed her support for him before Bill Bratton was appointed.
“He is truly the glue that holds the department together,” Bratton said of Banks at the DA’s ceremony. “He is one of the finest of the Finest.”
The award was established in 2001 to honor the memory of Garvin, the first black assistant district attorney in Queens. Before he joined the DA’s office, Garvin was one of the two first black graduates of St. John’s University Law School and the first African-American to serve on School Board 50 in Queens back in 1943.
“His accomplishments and service to others were exemplary,” Brown said of Garvin. “In choosing to live a life with purpose in public service, and as the first African-American assistant district attorney here in Queens, he paved the way for others to follow in his footsteps.”
Banks thanked the DA for the award, whose recipients have included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former Mayor David Dinkins and former Gov. David Patterson.
“This country is better off because of pioneers,” Banks said. “Against all odds they do it for one reason: They want to leave the world better than it was when they entered it.”
“I’m going to certainly work forward to it and make this man and his family proud,” he added of Garvin’s relatives, who attended the ceremony.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.