Philip Banks, NYPD Chief of Department, Steps Down Days After Accepting Promotion

NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks, the department's highest ranking black official, stepped down Friday, days after accepting a promotion that would have put him second in command to Bill Bratton.

Bratton confirmed Banks, who was expected to be formally named first deputy commissioner next week, resigned. According to the police commissioner, Banks told him "after careful consideration and discussing with his family, he was going to respectfully not accept the promotion and instead submit his resignation."

Bratton said he was sad to see him go.

"Over these last 10 months ... we'd become close," Bratton said. "He was gonna be my right hand man."

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Though first deputy commissioner is a higher rank than chief of department, it's a civilian post that was seen under the previous commissioner as largely ceremonial and stripped of power. 

Brooklyn community activist Tony Herbert, who's worked closely with Banks, said local leaders think the position was insulting to Banks. 

"I mean, this guy's a hands-on guy, and you can't just stuff him in a back room and not give him the energy to go forward and make things happen," he said. 

But Bratton said the job had been highly important during his previous stint as commissioner in the 1990s and remains so.

"First deputy in the New York City police department is the number two position, the second-most powerful position in the New York City police department," he said. 

Bratton said expanded duties for Banks in that role would have included drawing on his experience  as chief of community affairs to help rebuild trust following the controversy around stop and frisk. He also would have helped in personal development and training for police officers.

"I'm very saddened that he's going to leave," said Bratton. 

Banks joined the NYPD in 1986 and began his career on patrol in the 81st Precinct. He was promoted multiple times over his decades-long career with the force.

Herbert said Banks leaving the NYPD is "a loss for us, quite frankly, because he is that guy we can go to." 

"It's a sad commentary for our community," he said.

Banks declined an on-camera interview, but in a tweet he said he decided to step down for professional reasons.  

Sources familiar with his decision to resign tell NBC 4 New York it comes amid ongoing friction between Bratton's regime and the previous one under Ray Kelly. He agreed to take on the high-profile role just days ago.

The sources say that top NYPD brass have been resistant to Bratton's ideas in part because there are still too many "Kelly guys" around. Banks, a 28-year NYPD veteran named chief of the department last year, is one of those "Kelly guys," the sources said.

Mayor de Blasio said his administration was disappointed to learn of Banks' resignation.

Banks "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 in a statement. 

Bratton pledged continued diversity, announcing Friday James Secreto, who is black, as chief of housing, and Carlos Gomez as chief of patrol. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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