Not everyone is convinced that NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III — the top Black crime fighter in the police department — willingly decided to retire after three decades of stellar service and a recent promotion.
Many believe Commissioner Bill Bratton forced out the veteran crime fighter by offering him the position of First Deputy Commissioner — which Banks reluctantly accepted – and later reneging on promises to revise the duties from the so-called promotion.
Allegedly, Banks was originally promised more power in the new position, which in the past has been mostly ceremonial. Banks was allegedly promised oversight over NYPD operations.
During the meeting on Friday Bratton reportedly withdrew his promise forcing Banks to quit.
Reportedly Banks had previously threatened to resign due to ongoing friction over Bratton’s regime and his comparisons to the previous administration under Ray Kelly.
After the meeting, Banks made his announcement on social media posting on Twitter that he decided to step down because of professional reasons.
Since last Friday, uneasiness hovers about the sudden resignation and many have expressed outrage.
In a joint statement about the sudden resignation of the city’s top, Black cop, Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane D. Williams and Bronx City Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson said: “As elected officials who have fought for better police practices, we are extremely disturbed by news of the resignation of Chief Banks, which comes after news of his ‘promotion’ to a ceremonial position that does not hold the authority it deserves.”
The son of Grenadian immigrants, Williams represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn and is also deputy leader and co-chair of the City Council’s Task Force to Combat Gun Violence.
“Throughout Chief Banks’ tenure, his leadership has played a critical role in helping to navigate difficult relationships between NYPD and communities of more color as we attempted to deal with chronic issues in policing.”
“Whether it be the abuses of Stop, Question and Frisk, the misapplication of Broken Windows Theory, or local issues, Chief Banks has deftly held the line for the Department while having a responsive ear to all communities.”
Additionally, Williams and Gibson said having Chief Banks involved in addressing the issues surrounding the killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island, “really helped New York City avoid the racial tensions that occurred during the past two decades.”
“The resignation of the highest ranking Black and Latino official in the department seems to provide a strong indication that much more work needs to be done within the NYPD.”
“Our hope is that these resignations are not the latest signal that the type of change we desire to see is further out than we expect.”
In addition strong statements have been issued by The National Latino Officers Association, Grand Council of Guardians, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, City Council members, community groups and others.
“It is a total travesty to see someone who has a career of Banks’ now walk away,” Charles Billups, of the Grand Council of Guardians said.
“We lose so much ground in which we have gained.”
Billups said that Bratton forced Banks out by promoting him to a position with little power.
“Banks did not wish to become a civilian of the New York City Police Department,” Anthony Miranda with the National Latino Officers Association reportedly stated.
“The highest-ranking uniform position is the chief of department, not the first deputy commissioner, that’s a civilian title.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was disappointed to hear of Banks’ decision to step down.
“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,” de Blasio said.
Rev. Al Sharpton commented that there is a need for diversity in leadership positions within the NYPD. During a Saturday rally at his National Action Network, Sharpton called for Banks to be replaced with someone sensitive to police and community relations.
“Yes, I want diversity. Yes, I want Blacks and Latinos in senior positions, but I want the right Blacks and Latinos,” Sharpton said.
Of the resignation Bratton denied any rift with Banks.
“He was very comfortable and significantly involved in the reshaping of the academy training program for our new recruits.”
“I had every confidence that he could fulfill it as well as the expanded responsibilities that we were going to put into that office, which was going to focus very heavily on our personnel development training initiatives at the academy and also the significant rebuilding of relationships with the minority communities.”
He claimed together he and Banks “were very simpatico in the understanding of the culture of the department needed to be reshaped after a number of years being focused very heavily on arrest orientation,” Bratton said.
“Ultimately it was his choice to step away from the assignment that was offered,” Bratton said.
He further explained, “I think we have a very extensive minority representation in the ranks of this department,” Bratton claimed. “I’m quite pleased with my appointments in that regard.”
Bratton said an appointment to replace Banks will be announced on Wednesday. The commissioner said the announcement will reveal someone that the community will be happy with.
Banks was promoted to chief of department last year and was one of the highest ranking Black law enforcement officials in New York City. Banks has been with the department since 1986 and was previously the head of community affairs. He is the second African-American to hold the top uniform position.