Mayor Names Philip Banks III as Dep Mayor of Public Safety

Chief of Department Philip Banks III, the highest ranking black member of the NYPD, on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014.
File Photo.

Mayor Eric Adams today named Philip Banks III his Deputy Mayor of Public Safety a role that hasn’t been filled since the 1990s.

Banks, who most recently served as the New York City Police Department (NYPD) chief of department, will be tasked with coordinating all agencies on public safety matters to ensure they align with the Mayor’s vision.

“I need a partner in government who understands what it takes to keep New Yorkers safe. Phil Banks is that person, and I am grateful for his continued public service in this new role to help our administration deliver the safety we need and the justice we deserve,” Mayor Adams said in a statement Jan. 7. 

Over Banks’ 30-year career, he also served as chief of community affairs for the NYPD. In 2013, he was appointed to the highest position in the department, and became known as the highest-ranking Black officer in the NYPD. 

“I thank Mayor Adams for appointing me as Deputy Mayor for Public Safety. The fact that he is restoring this position in his administration speaks volumes about how dedicated he is to tackling the real public safety crisis on our streets,” Banks said.

The deputy mayor of public safety is not meant to be in charge of the NYPD—Adams already appointed Nassau officer Keechcant Sewell for the position of police commissioner. Rather, the deputy mayor of public safety is supposed to work with the police commissioner as a team and coordinate all public safety agencies, not just the police. 

“We have to stop operating in silos,” Adams said on Dec. 14. “All of those officers, they wear different patches, but it does not mean they should be on different teams and I want one person to coordinate how we better utilize them.”

Banks will be starting from scratch in this new position, with no precedent on how to begin coordinating all agencies. However, he is no stranger to organizing large groups. Banks is a member of the founding chapter of 100 Black Men, Inc., a network of programs that serve Black communities. 

However, his high status and esteem wavered when he abruptly resigned from his position as chief of department. According to TheCity, Banks was implicated in several criminal schemes, including bribery and tax fraud. He was investigated by the FBI, and later the IRS. An advisor in Bill de Blasio’s administration who was closely involved with Banks, Jona Rechnitz, plead guilty to bribery charges, but Banks was never charged. The controversy follows him to this day. 

Banks has been closely involved in Adams’s decisions during and after his mayoral campaign, has since received much support from Black leaders in New York City. He is also the brother of David Banks, the new school’s chancellor. 

“Congratulations to Deputy Mayor Banks on his historic appointment as deputy mayor of public safety, the first to be appointed since former mayor David Dinkins did so Like Mayor Dinkins, Mayor Adams understands how essential it is that we get public safety right, protecting our most vulnerable in the right way,” said National Action Network Founder and President Reverend Al Sharpton.

On Friday, it was also reported that Adams will select three more appointments: Jessica Katz to a new senior housing post, Carlo Scissura to run economic development and Dan Garodnick as planning czar, according to The Real Deal.

Katz is the executive director of the housing nonprofit Citizens Housing and Planning Council, Scissura is president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, and Garodnick is a former City Council member.