Banks Departs Days After Promotion
NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III abruptly resigned from the force last Friday, Oct. 31, just days after the department announced he would be promoted to first deputy commissioner.
In a statement released to the press on Sunday, Nov. 2, the 28- year NYPD veteran and St. Albans resident explained serving in the new post “would have been an honor,” but he “felt that the position would take me away from where I could make the greatest contribution: the police work and operations that I love so much.”
Banks’ departure set off a storm of controversy over the weekend regarding NYPD leadership. Critics charged that his promotion was more ceremonial than substantial, as various duties were shifted away from the post to the chief of department.
James P. O’Neill, formerly chief of patrol, replaced Banks in his former post. Banks was to have succeeded former First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro, who recently resigned.
Yesterday (Nov. 5), Police Commissioner Bill Bratton named Benjamin Tucker, who had been deputy commissioner for training, as the new first deputy commissioner.
Prior to his departure, Banks noted, he and Bratton “made good-faith efforts to bridge” the responsibility gap between chief of department and first deputy commissioner, but “we were not successful.”
“For that reason, I informed the commissioner that I could not serve in that role, and he graciously accepted my decision,” Banks said. “I am at peace with my decision and ready to begin the next chapter. I have every confidence that Mayor [Bill] de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton will continue to build a department which every New Yorker can be proud of. While I will no longer be part of that worthy mission, I believe we should all support them.”
In a Capital New York report last Friday, Bratton was quoted as saying he was “saddened” by Banks’ resignation, adding that “he was going to be, effectively, my right-hand man, as he has largely been this past year.”
“He has served this department in all ranks as an exceptional leader and effectively worked with the community to support our efforts to make New York City one of the safest largest cities in the world,” Bratton said in his official statement last Friday announcing Banks’ departure. “As a result of his outstanding leadership and commitment, Chief Banks was selected to become the first deputy commissioner, the secondhighest position within the NYPD at the upcoming promotions on Monday, Nov. 3. His decision to retire is truly a loss to the department and my leadership team.”
De Blasio, in his own statement last Friday, also expressed his disappointment regarding Banks’ announcement: “He has served New York City admirably during his nearly 30 years on the force, and we were enthusiastic about the leadership and energy he would have brought to the position of first deputy commissioner.”
But Public Advocate Letitia James sounded a cautious note, charging that “the fact that just 10 months into this administration, the top uniformed police officer believed he had to resign is deeply troubling.”
“I am most concerned about making sure the reforms promised to this city are real and lasting, and that our commitment to a diverse police leadership is unflinching,” James said.
The episode led one daily publication, citing unnamed sources, to report on Sunday of a growing rift between de Blasio and Bratton. At a hastily arranged press conference that afternoon at Gracie Mansion, the mayor and police commissioner, sitting sideby side, dismissed any reported division and offered mutual support of one another and the NYPD.
Previously head of the Community Affairs Bureau, Banks was promoted to chief of department by then-Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly in March 2013, making him the NYPD’s highest-ranking uniformed officer.
Before being assigned to official duties at One Police Plaza, Banks’ career included stints at various Brooklyn precincts and terms as commanding officer for the 79th and 81st precincts, as well as the Central Park Precinct and Patrol Borough Manhattan North.