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Bratton to name Philip Banks' replacement Wednesday, spokeswoman says

Chief of Department Philip Banks III, the highest

Chief of Department Philip Banks III, the highest ranking black member of the NYPD, on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

Police Commissioner William Bratton says he plans to announce his replacement for Philip Banks III on Wednesday, according to a department spokeswoman, as the departure of the department's highest-ranking black official continued to raise concerns among African-American leaders.

"I think the city and its many diverse communities will be very pleased with that announcement," Bratton said at police headquarters Saturday, according to published reports.

Banks, 50, abruptly retired Friday just days after it was announced that he was going to be moved from his job as chief of department, the NYPD's highest uniformed position, to the position of first deputy commissioner, the department's second-highest-ranking job.

Current and former NYPD officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Banks wanted more authority in the post than Bratton would give him. Banks regarded the job as a do-nothing ceremonial position, according to a person who spoke with him -- a description that Bratton disputed.

One point of contention was that Banks wanted his successor as chief of department to report to him, not directly to Bratton, an NYPD official said. "If he did that, he is effectively saying 'I want to be first deputy [commissioner] and chief of department,' " another high-ranking official said.

Some city officials and activists have said they are concerned about the impact Banks' exit will have on diversity in the department's ranks.

Why Banks quit "is a question that must be answered, and the mayor must stand accountable for that," said the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.

Among the names departmental sources mentioned as possibilities for first deputy commissioner was Gerald Nelson, chief of Brooklyn North. Nelson, formerly the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn North, was promoted to chief in July.

Another potential candidate, according to the sources, is Deputy Chief Kim Royster, commanding officer of the NYPD's public information division. The elevation of Royster from that post would be an unusual move, but there is precedent. Former Police Commissioner Richard Condon, who oversaw the NYPD from 1989 to 1990, appointed police spokeswoman Alice McGillion as first deputy.

Both Nelson and Royster are black.

The Rev. Al Sharpton weighed in on the issue at his weekly rally yesterday, saying the most important thing is for Banks' replacement to pursue the right policies.

Sharpton said he doesn't just want blacks and Latinos in senior positions, he wants "the right blacks and Latinos."

With Matthew Chayes and AP

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