New York Times
November 6, 2014


William Bratton Names a New Deputy for the New York Police Department Amid Scrutiny

By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN

After days of controversy over the No. 2 post at the New York Police Department, Commissioner William J. Bratton on Wednesday named his new pick for the job of first deputy commissioner.

His choice, Benjamin B. Tucker, who has been the department’s top training official, was sworn in as the first deputy commissioner at Police Headquarters.

The ceremony came less than a week after Mr. Bratton’s original choice for the job, Philip Banks III, abruptly resigned from his post as chief of department rather than accept a promotion to what he saw as a less powerful position.

Mr. Banks, who is black, was the top uniformed officer in the department. His departure on Friday prompted expressions of frustration from some political leaders, who said the city could not afford to lose him at a time when the department was working to build better relations with black and Latino communities. Mr. Tucker is also black.

The selection of the first deputy commissioner, a civilian post, ordinarily would receive little public attention. The job, while the second-highest position in the department, has had a low profile and a vague portfolio over the past decade. The opening arose from the departure of Rafael Pineiro, a holdover from the leadership team of Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who retired last month. Mr. Pineiro, a 44-year veteran, was the department’s highest-ranking Hispanic official.

Speculation about a successor immediately focused on Mr. Banks. In talks with Mr. Bratton about a promotion, Mr. Banks sought to expand the scope of the job. But when Mr. Bratton declined to make the proposed changes, Mr. Banks resigned.

That spurred a political drama as the initial mystery surrounding Mr. Banks’s exit cascaded into questions about whether Mr. Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio were making good on their promise to wean the Police Department off its reliance on stop-and-frisk tactics.

Since then, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Mr. Bratton have made a show of their mutual faith in each other. Mr. Bratton has called Mr. de Blasio the best mayor for whom he has worked. (There have been eight of them.) And Mr. de Blasio on Wednesday described Mr. Bratton as “everything I hoped he would be and more.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Bratton described the first deputy commissioner position as the second most powerful post in the department. In accepting the job, Mr. Tucker, who grew up in Brooklyn, began by noting that he joined the department in 1969 as an 18-year-old high school graduate.

“I kind of grew up in this department,” he said, “and this department gave me opportunities I would probably never have had as a kid from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.”

In the 1980s, Mr. Tucker held senior posts in various city agencies, including the Commission on Human Rights and the Manhattan borough president’s office. He later served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, most recently in the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He returned to the Police Department earlier this year, in the civilian post of deputy commissioner for training.

Mr. Bratton has said that the first deputy commissioner will take a central role in dealing with the new oversight measures established last year in response to the extraordinary number of police stops of young black and Hispanic men. After the death of a Staten Island man in July who had been placed by an officer in a chokehold, the commissioner appointed Mr. Tucker to review the department’s training and policies on use of force.

Michael M. Grynbaum contributed reporting.