By Juan Soto
Several days after Police Commissioner William Bratton named Philip Banks his No. 2 in command, he resigned as first deputy commissioner in a move that was considered “troubling” and “disappointing” by some southeast Queens lawmakers.
The decision by Banks, a black 28-year-old veterans of the police force, came only days after he was to replace Rafael Piñeiro, the highest-ranking Hispanic member of the Police Department, who announced he was retiring.
Bratton promoted Benjamin Tucker to be his No. 2 man in the department Wednesday. Tucker has held important positions at the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the Human Rights Commission.
“The abrupt resignation of Chief Banks is troubling for a number of reasons,” said City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton). “As a young man of color, the sudden departure of the top black and Latino police officials reflects poorly on the culture of inclusion and reform at One Police Plaza.”
Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) was also surprised by the resignation. “I’m terribly dismayed by Chief Banks’ departure,” he said. “In a little over a month, the NYPD’s two most senior black and Latino officials have exited One Police Plaza at a time when a disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos are being arrested for petty offenses, and excessive use-of-force allegations persist.”
I. Daneel Miller (D-St. Albans) said Banks as the top uniformed officer in the Police Department would have represented “a hands-on role model to the youth” of southeast Queens communities.
Miller, who pointed out Banks was raised in Cambria Heights, said, “it is disappointing that our city has lost such a dedicated, lifelong civil servant who has contributed so much to our community over his decades in the force.”
The St. Albans lawmaker added, “I would be remiss if I did not note that I am equally concerned that this move has marginalized our community when it comes to a voice in policing and public safety.”
Richards said he hoped the new administration would bridge “the gap between policing and communities of color.”
The legislator said “hopefully, in light of this most recent development, we can effectively engage all stakeholders to improve the current policy on behalf of all New Yorkers.”
Wills also extended his hand to Banks’ replacement.
“I welcome the appointment of Benjamin Tucker…and am hopeful he will be able to preserve the relations between the department and community advocates that previously existed under Chief Banks.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4564.