Who will be the next police commissioner?
Herb Boyd | 11/14/2013, 1:26 p.m.
If Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is interested in the opinion of a very small, informal survey of Black New Yorkers, then he should choose Kim Royster or Philip Banks III as the next police commissioner. Royster, according to some Harlemites, would add color and gender to the new mayor’s inner circle. Royster, who was the commanding officer of the NYPD’s Public Information Division, was promoted to inspector in October, making the 29-year veteran the third Black woman to earn a gold star in the department’s history. She is the mother of two and played a pivotal role in the gun buyback initiative.
As chief of department, Banks is the highest ranking uniformed officer in the NYPD. A 26-year veteran, his remarkable career on the force include stints as the commanding officer of 12 precincts in northern Manhattan and director of the Community Affairs Bureau.
Attempts to reach Royster and Banks as we went to press were not successful.
But New Yorkers did get at least a touch of response from former Police Commissioner William Bratton, who is on the mayor-elect’s short list for the job. At any other time, Bratton told a reporter from The New York Times he’d be willing to talk about the prospect of such an appointment, but at the moment, he was rushing to the American embassy in Trinidad. “So, I only have a few minutes,” he said without divulging much information about returning as police commissioner, a job he held under Rudy Giuliani from 1994 to 1996.
Whoever is selected to become the city’s next police commissioner faces the daunting task of reforming the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program, which for young Blacks and Latinos amounts to nothing less than racial profiling.
During his campaign, de Blasio never said he would end stop-and-frisk completely, but he was consistent in his promise to reform the policy. He said he would change the way the NYPD has been utilizing the practice, and this should certainly appeal to Banks, who was stopped-and-frisked.
Selecting the next police commissioner, dealing with affordable housing, taxing the rich and settling the numerous public union contracts should keep de Blasio up many a night wondering if his dream come true isn’t a nightmare. Add to that a $2 billion city deficit on the agenda, and it’s enough to make him throw up both his hands, as Marvin Gaye sang, and holler, “This ain’t it!”