A member of Eric Adams' transition team approached the commanding officer of the NYPD gun licensing division in December to ask about obtaining gun permits for civilians who would potentially be assigned to protect City Hall.
The head of the NYPD License Division, according to four sources briefed on the conversation, was troubled by the pitch, made by Tim Pearson, a retired NYPD inspector serving on the Adams transition team.
Deputy Inspector Hugh Bogle shut the conversation down and reported it to a supervisor, concerned that the request was made by a non-government official, and involved a questionable idea to replace trained NYPD officers with lesser-trained civilians.
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One senior official said Pearson had talked about wanting to do security for the mayor "a different way."
Adams's chief spokesman confirms the meeting took place, but denies there was ever any intention to replace NYPD officers with civilians on the mayor's security detail.
"Pearson, on the transition team, was inquiring as to the possibility of replacing NYPD officers at City Hall, not on the Mayor’s detail, with other qualified municipal employees," said Communications Director Maxwell Young.
He added that the idea was "to save resources and get more officers out on the street."
City officials say the proposal was to hire civilians, through the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, and designate them as special patrol officers with gun licenses and arrest powers. These civilians would have been stationed in high-profile posts like the front gates and hallways of City Hall and Gracie Mansion, according to Young.
DCAS personnel already provide security at some municipal buildings in the city. Young said the idea of civilians protecting City Hall was "dropped… when the answer appeared to be no."
Word spread through some police and union circles that an effort was underway not only to replace uniformed police officers protecting City Hall, but to place known and trusted civilian associates of Mayor Adams on his security detail.
"This is absolutely inaccurate," Young said in a statement. "There was absolutely never a consideration about replacing the mayor’s security detail with civilians.”
Adams has said he wants to limit his security detail, and is facing some criticism for placing his brother Bernard Adams, a retired NYPD sergeant, in charge of his protection.
NBC New York previously reported that Pearson was also the messenger to the NYPD that the mayor-elect wanted his brother hired, in what watchdogs say is a violation of local ethics law.
When asked about their reaction to the proposal, some police and union officials said they were concerned about downgrading security at City Hall, a potential terror target that was also the scene of a 2003 shooting that killed Brooklyn Councilmember James Davis.
The president of the detectives' union Paul DiGiacomo said: “NYPD Detectives have been protecting City Hall for decades and they’re second to none at their jobs. The idea that 'The Greatest Detectives in the World' can be replaced by lesser trained, experienced, and committed civilian security guards is preposterous — and risks the safety of all those who work and visit there.”
DiGiacomo was one of several union officials who said the plan would have violated labor contracts.
Police sources said another reason the request was irksome: The NYPD License Division was previously embroiled in a corruption investigation where two businessmen were arrested and later convicted for trying to bribe Mayor Bill de Blasio and numerous NYPD officials. Questions raised in the case included whether special treatment existed in the awarding of gun permits.
Adams' newly named Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal bribery case linked to the two now-convicted businessmen case. At the time, Banks was the NYPD's Chief of Department and was never charged with a crime.
The mayor's office also confirmed that during that December meeting at One Police Plaza, Tim Pearson inquired about getting a gun permit for himself. He was told he had to apply through his home county of Nassau.
Through spokespeople, both Banks and Pearson declined requests for comment.