Chief Philip Banks for police commisioner

At this critical time in the history of the city of New York, the next mayor—be it Bill de Blasio or Joe Lhota—is strongly encouraged to select the best candidate possible to be the next New York City police commissioner. Of course, such a selection should be a normal course of action, but now, in light of the local, national and international attention New York City has attracted due to its current infamous “stop-and-frisk” policies and how they have been enforced over the past years, the upcoming choice now takes on even greater importance.

It is our view that now would be the most appropriate time to send a signal about changes needed to protect the interests of all New Yorkers by selecting the most seasoned, best informed and most respected person to head up the America’s largest police department. According to the views of Patrick J. Lynch, president of the NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, “The police commissioner selection should be based on finding the best qualified person—nothing more and nothing less.” We very much agree with Lynch.

With that in mind, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Harlem Business Alliance, 100 Black Men of New York and New York branch of the NAACP join with the New York Amsterdam News and many others to recommend clearly that the first and perhaps only choice should be Philip Banks III, the current NYPD chief of department.

Banks’ background and resume is outstanding. New Yorkers should know that he joined the NYPD in 1986 and began his career patrolling the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s 81st Precinct. In 1994, he was promoted to sergeant, in 1977 to lieutenant, in 1999 to captain, in 2001 to deputy inspector, in 2003 to inspector, in 2006 to deputy chief and in 2009 to assistant chief. Banks has served in five precincts in Brooklyn and in Manhattan. He even served in the Harbor Patrol Unit, as well as the School Safety Division, with stints as executive officer of Brooklyn South and commanding officer of Manhattan North.

Banks has virtually “seen and done it all.” More importantly, Banks is a true New Yorker who is dramatically committed to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers, especially for its youth, with a particular focus on the plight of Latino, Caribbean, Asian and African-American youth.

Banks is an alumnus of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Harvard University. He comes from an extraordinary family. His father, Philip Banks Jr. (born and raised in Harlem), was the former president of 100 Black Men Inc., and he served with the NYPD for more than 26 years, retiring as a lieutenant. So indeed, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Philip Banks III’s brother is renowned educator David Banks, president and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation. The Academy features the first school in the network of new innovations for boys’ public schools in New York City. As you can see, the Banks family has a tradition of servicing and giving notable attention to the needs of our youth.

Philip Banks III is well widely respected within and throughout the ranks of law enforcement citywide, regionally and nationally. But of even greater importance is that he is respected on the streets of the South Bronx, South Jamaica, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Harlem, as well as on Wall Street and in Times Square.

Banks is truly an appointment that is well deserved and would unquestionably be well received as a message for the future, coming from the new mayor-elect.

We, therefore, encourage those in contact with both of the prime mayoral candidates to pass the word that 2014 is indeed the time for Banks. If Banks is selected, New York City will be much the better for it.

If for any reason Banks is not available, we believe that former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton is another strong candidate for the new mayor-elect to consider. Bratton did an excellent job of working with all communities when he was commissioner and was open to new and creative thinking.

The next article will focus on appointment recommendations to the mayor-elect for the Department of Education, New York City Economic Development Corporation and the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development.

We would appreciate receiving your comments and recommendations.

On behalf of a committee of the concerned,

Lloyd Williams

President and CEO

The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce