Witt’s World: Let Bernard Adams be his brother’s keeper

Mayor Eric Adams

As a journalist, I’m more big picture than gotcha.

Take Mayor Eric Adams’s recent appointment of his brother Bernard, 56, first as a New York City Police Department Deputy commissioner at a reported salary of about $240,000, and then after the media dug in their heels, overseeing his brother’s security at $210,000 annually.

Bernard is a retired NYPD sergeant who retired in 2006 after serving 20 years during a time that saw both murders in the city climb to over 2,000 annually and the Sept. 11 attack that felled the World Trade Center.

News that Bernard was hired came at around the same time that Mayor Adams hired Philip Banks III as a deputy mayor overseeing and coordinating the various agencies involved with public safety. 

Banks, a lifelong cop, rose through NYPD ranks to become chief of department, and was on the verge of becoming the first deputy in 2014 to William J. Bratton, then the incoming police commissioner, but retired after he was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a bribe corruption investigation.

Prior to the announcement of his hiring, Banks was reported to have helped clean house at the upper ranks of the NYPD – mainly white males – along with newly appointed Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and new first deputy commissioner, Edward Caban. 

Notably, both the Rev. Al Sharpton and Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, praised Banks’ appointment. These voices of approval make sense considering both the NYPD’s relationship with Black community over the past eight years and that Eric Adams, won the mayoral election largely on the issue of public safety and with heavy Black and Hispanic support.

But local media – sensing a gotcha story days into the new administration – has written multiple scathing stories and editorials about Bernard Adams, Banks, high salaries and nepotism. 

This is fair game, I suppose, except for the salaries. In a City budget that has bloated above the $100 billion mark – more than the entire state of Florida – you have to expect high salaries. It’s gotten to the point where young people who used to come to NYC armed with MBAs to work on Wall Street, now come with degrees in public policy or urban planning to work in city government.

But I digress. The bigger picture here is public safety, the mayor’s safety and reforming the NYPD. If Mayor Adams feels more comfortable hiring his brother and Philip Banks III – two veteran NYPD officers – they should be given the chance to do the job.