Philip Banks III, New York City’s highest ranking uniformed police officer within the New York Police Department abruptly announced his resignation earlier this week, days before beginning a new high-ranking promotion. He was set to begin his new position Monday, November 3 before informing Commissioner Bill Bratton minutes before a weekly briefing with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The only public explanation Banks has given so far was a tweet saying:
Thanks for your support, the men and women of the #NYPD are truly the Finest, but due to professional reasons I have decided to retire.
— Philip Banks III (@NYPDChiefBanks) October 31, 2014
“Chief Banks’ commitment to the NYPD and the people of this city has been demonstrated throughout his impressive 28 years of police service,” said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton in a statement. “He has served this Department in all ranks as an exceptional leader and effectively worked with the community to support our efforts to make New York City one of the safest largest cities in the world.”
Although Banks was apparently being groomed for the top spot in the department, there were internal power struggles between himself and Bratton. While a source said that Banks’ decision “caught everybody off guard;” other officials familiar with the situation offered possible explanations for Banks’ abrupt resignation.
“I think they were looking to isolate him because he was his own man,” said a former official who served under previous police commissioner Raymond Kelly.
“Under Kelly the position of first deputy had no legs,” said a current NYPD official. “If nothing [else], it is definitely a precursor to being police commissioner.”
Banks is also the highest ranking African American on the New York police force, and his resignation marks the second minority leader to resign from the NYPD in recent months. City Council members Jumaane D. Williams and Vanessa L. Gibson released a statement that expressed outrage over the fact that Banks was offered an empty “‘promotion‘ to a ceremonial position that does not hold the authority it deserves.”
“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,” said the statement.