What to Know
- The NYPD's Chief of Patrol, Fausto Pichardo, abruptly retired from the department due to micromanagement and undermining from the mayor's office, three senior officials told NBC New York. However, the city's mayor has called these accusations "not accurate."
- Pichardo commanded protests throughout Borough Park last week, at one point working 36 hours straight, officials said. Then on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called him at home, and when Pichardo didn't answer after working the long shift, the mayor demanded he come to City Hall on Friday, according to the officials.
- During that meeting, officials said that de Blasio gave Pichardo a tongue-lashing for not answering his calls and texts. Communications of that manner are unusual, as the mayor typically speaks directly with the police commissioner or the chief of department.
The NYPD's Chief of Patrol, Fausto Pichardo, abruptly retired from the department due to micromanagement and undermining from the mayor's office, three senior officials told NBC New York. However, the city's mayor has called these accusations "not accurate."
Pichardo commanded protests throughout Borough Park last week, at one point working 36 hours straight, officials said. Then on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called him at home, and when Pichardo didn't answer after working the long shift, the mayor demanded he come to City Hall on Friday, according to the officials.
During that meeting, officials said that de Blasio gave Pichardo a tongue-lashing for not answering his calls and texts. Communications of that manner are unusual, as the mayor typically speaks directly with the police commissioner or the chief of department.
Two days after that meeting, de Blasio unleashed a barrage of texts to Pichardo demanding details about a house party in the Bronx, according to sources. Frustrated by the situation and communication outside the chain of command, Pichardo filed for retirement Tuesday, senior officials told NBC New York.
After submitting his retirement papers on Tuesday, Pichardo met with de Blasio at City Hall, where the mayor urged with him to reconsider and remain on the job, sources said.
“This one is a gut punch because it’s a huge hole to fill, he’s such a well-rounded individual, he’s a loss to the city," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a NY1 interview Wednesday morning, adding that he himself didn't know until Tuesday of Pichardo's plans and was taken by surprise. "I tried and failed to talk him out of it. Hopefully, you know, maybe he'll reconsider."
Shea didn't speculate as to the reasons behind the sudden retirement, only saying "I'm sure it's complicated situation. It's been a tough year for a lot of people."
In response to his retirement, a spokesperson for the mayor said "Chief of Patrol Pichardo is a deeply respected leader in the NYPD and City Hall is continuing to have conversations with him regarding his future."
Pichardo, a 20-year veteran of the department, was named to the position back in December 2019. The 43-year-old was the first Dominican-American to be named to the high-ranking position, which oversaw more than 20,000 of the NYPD's uniformed and patrol officers.
“Since I came on the job in 1999, I wake up each day working to make the streets of New York City safer for police officers and the people we take the sacred oath and are sworn to serve," Pichardo said upon being named Chief of Patrol 11 months ago, a position he described as a "dream job."
Pichardo had been the NYPD's highest-ranking Hispanic officer, and becomes the second three-star police chief of Latino descent to resign under de Blasio (Carlos Gomez, a Cuban immigrant, retired in 2017 after 37 years with the department). Pichardo had filled the position that Rodney Harrison vacated after being named Chief of Detectives. Pichardo previously served under Harrison as executive officer in the patrol bureau.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea credited Pichardo with help "bringing Neighborhood Policing to fruition" at the time of his appointment. Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said in a tweet that Pichardo "was an asset to the NYPD." He went on to criticize de Blasio, saying that the mayor "does not and has never valued the talent that exist in the NYPD."
The retirement, which takes effect 30 days from Tuesday, comes amid a months-long surge in violent crime throughout the city. It also comes as the department undergoes some leadership changes, as Chief of Transit Edward Dellatorre will be moved to the labor relations office, and Chief of Transportation Nilda Hoffman is set to retire at the end of October. No official replacements have been named for those positions nor Pichardo's.
During his daily coronavirus press briefing Wednesday, de Blasio said that Pichardo "has done a fantastic job and I've felt that throughout and I've said it many times." However, he described Pichardo's departure as a personal and family-based decision.
"I want him to obviously have the opportunity to speak for himself, but I will only say, I spoke to him last night several times, I spoke to him this morning, I'm very clear from those conversations this was a personal decision based on personal and family factors," de Blasio went on to say. "He's a very devoted family man. This was something he felt it was important to do for his own family. We have rarely disagreed in these months working closely together in very very tough times. He is someone I hold in high regard. We all tried to see if there was a way to convince him to try and stay but it was a personal decision."
De Blasio called the accusations that he was meddling with the chain of command "not accurate" and part of a "rumor mill."
"I have a close working relationship with a lot of the key leaders of the police department. We've been working shoulder-to-shoulder through so much," de Blasio said. "We've all talked constantly and this was true way before the pandemic, going back years [...]this was obviously something that was a personal decision and a family decision."
On Wednesday afternoon, Pichardo took to Twitter to address his retirement by thanking members of the NYPD and New Yorkers.
"Every interaction that you have is an opportunity to forge a greater bond with those we serve," he said.
Pichardo went on to thank Shea and de Blasio, tweeting: "Thank you to @NYPDShea and @NYCMayor for always trusting and supporting me while serving in this role. It has been an honor and privilege to serve the NYPD and the people of this great city."
However, Pichardo's abrupt retirement has been met with criticism.
In a statement, the National Latino Officers Association said in part: "It is amazing that during these critical times the Mayor and Police Commissioner fail to recognize the need for Hispanic representation in policy making positions. The administration consistently fails to acknowledge the work and contributions of Hispanic law enforcement leadership. Hispanic NYPD executives always suffer discrimination and retaliation. Hispanic NYPD executives view executive promotions as being diagnosed with a terminal illness with a short life expectancy."
Meanwhile, PBA President Patrick Lynch said Pichardo's departure "has left the NYPD broken, almost beyond repair."
"This is what happens when elected officials play political games with police department operations. Our top talent in all ranks is being driven out the door and public safety is suffering," Lynch said. "City Hall's amateur-hour meddling has left the NYPD broken, almost beyond repair."