New York Post
November 6, 2014

 

Bratton makes his choice for NYPD No. 2 after Banks fiasco

By Jamie Schram, Shawn Cohen, Bruce Golding and Larry Celona

Photo: Chad Rachman
New York Police Department First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker Wed., Nov. 5.

A top-level NYPD official was promoted Wednesday afternoon to be Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s second-in-command, filling a spot left vacant when the city’s highest-ranking black cop unexpectedly turned down the job and quit last week.

Bratton praised his new first deputy commissioner, Ben Tucker, as an “extraordinary leader” with “more than enough capabilities, talent, inspiration and love for the department.”

“It’s almost a perfect match for everything we’re being asked to address in this department at this particular time,” Bratton said before Tucker was sworn in at 1 Police Plaza.

Tucker, who stood next to his wife, called the promotion “an amazing moment and time in my life” and “really like a dream come true.”

“I love this department,” he said.

“This department gave me opportunities that I probably never would have had as a kid from Bedford-Stuvesant, Brooklyn.”

Bratton picked Tucker — who previously held high-level posts at the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the city Human Rights Commission — to replace Chief of Department Philip Banks III, who unexpectedly rejected an agreed-upon promotion to first deputy and quit on Friday.

The surprise move followed a struggle between Banks and Bratton over how much authority Banks would wield.

Banks was the city’s highest-ranking black cop, and his abrupt departure sparked a crisis for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was assailed by minority leaders on Monday for failing to deliver on promises to reform the NYPD.

Tucker is also black, but sources said there was “a lot of back-and-forth” about his promotion to first deputy commissioner.

Tucker’s opponents favored either Chief Gerald Nelson, commander of Patrol Borough Brooklyn North, or Douglas Zeigler, formerly the head of the Community Affairs Bureau and director of security for the MTA, sources said.

Nelson and Zeigler are both familiar faces to the rank-and-file, while Tucker has spent much of his career working in City Hall, academia and Washington, D.C.

De Blasio and Bratton have been under fire since Banks’ surprise resignation, with The Post exclusively reporting that de Blasio chewed out Bratton for letting him get “blindsided” — while First Lady Chirlane McCray railed at her hubby about Bratton: “I told you we can’t trust him!”

They have denied those incidents, with de Blasio calling his discussion with McCray a “private conversation” and McCray maintaining that “I didn’t have time that day to have a conversation with my husband.”

Although Tucker is black, his promotion brought a tepid response from various minority police critics.

City Council members ­Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) and Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) issued a statement saying it was “obvious that no one can replace Chief Banks, and his departure is a huge loss to the NYPD and the entire city . . .

“It is our hope that Deputy Commissioner Tucker hits the ground running by developing and strengthening relationships throughout the city and taking immediate steps to addressing systemic issues before we lose any progress that has been made thus far,” they added.

The Communities United for Police Reform likewise said that Tucker “will be judged by whether he takes action to change the NYPD for the better.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton ­offered only lukewarm support, saying that while he has known Tucker for years, “we have never worked closely together.”

According to his official biography, Tucker, 63, joined the NYPD in 1969 as a police trainee and worked as a cop in the 24th, 77th and 69th precincts.

He also served as a Police Academy instructor and an adviser to the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for legal matters.

Tucker took leave from the department and in July 1983 became assistant director of the Civilian Complaint Review Board. He also served as executive director of the city Commission on Human Rights before retiring from the NYPD in 1991.

Since then, he’s been a senior researcher at New York University and Columbia University, taught at Pace University and held various posts with the US Justice Department, the city Department of Education — where he was in charge of school safety — and most recently at the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy.

He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from John Jay College and a law degree from Fordham University.

Tucker returned to the NYPD in January as deputy commissioner of training under Bratton.

In July, he was ordered to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of how cops are trained to use force, in the wake of the police chokehold death of Eric Garner during his arrest for illegally selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island.

Additional reporting by Michael Gartland