Mayor Bill de Blasio said today he didn’t try to talk NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks out of resigning just days before he was set to take the position of first deputy commissioner.
“No, look, he made a decision, I respect his decision. I obviously wish him well, I liked working with him, but he made his decision,” the mayor told reporters outside City Hall this evening. “He made his own decision, at that point you have to respect if someone’s chosen that, then that’s what they’re going to do.”
Mr. Banks — the highest uniformed officer on the force and the highest ranking black member of the NYPD — was considered for the top cop job before Mr. de Blasio settled on Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. A slew of city officials and advocates today expressed concern at Mr. Banks’ departure, just weeks after the retirement of the department’s top Hispanic member, First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro, who Mr. Banks was set to replace.
Some news outlets have reported that Mr. Banks was promised the first deputy position would be beefed up after being stripped of much of its authority under former Commissioner Ray Kelly — but decided to resign today when he determined he would not actually have the authority he believed he would.
Asked about the motives behind Mr. Banks’ departure, Mr. de Blasio said he did not “want to interpret other people’s views.” But he defended the power of the office Mr. Banks had been offered.
“Obviously he was going to be first deputy commissioner, and the way we intend for that role to be is a very, very central role,” Mr. de Blasio said. “All I know is that he had an opportunity to be first deputy commissioner a role that was going to be very central, very important going forward. And I think he’s a great public servant, I think he would’ve done a great job, but he made a decision otherwise and I respect that.”