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NYPD patrol chief Fausto Pichardo, 43, leaving after less than year in post

NYPD Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo at a

NYPD Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo at a monthly crime briefing in the Bronx in December 2019. Credit: Charles Eckert

Fausto Pichardo, the NYPD’s chief of patrol overseeing the more than 22,000 uniformed cops and 77 police precincts, is leaving the department after less than a year in the post.

His retirement papers were filed Tuesday, according to NYPD spokesman Sgt. Anwar Ishmael, who said it takes effect in November. No reason was given for Pichardo's sudden departure, nor a replacement named.

Mayoral spokesman Bill Neidhardt said in a written statement: "Chief of Patrol Pichardo is a deeply respected leader in the NYPD and City Hall is continuing to have conversations with him regarding his future."

In an interview with PIX 11 television news Wednesday morning, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said he was surprised by Pichardo's resignation.

Shea praised Pichardo as "a tremendous asset to the department" and said he will be missed.

"He has really excelled at every job he has ever held," Shea said, from his days as a recruit and on up through the ranks.

Shea declined to comment on anonymous reports that Pichardo resigned following tension with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Asked about those reports at a news conference on Wednesday, de Blasio said they were "not accurate" and called Pichardo's resignation a "personal decision."

"I spoke to him last night several times. I spoke to him this morning," de Blasio said. "I’m very clear from those conversations, this was a personal decision, a decision based on personal and family factors."

The mayor said he and Pichardo had "rarely disagreed in these months working very closely together in very, very tough times. So, he’s someone I hold in high regard. We all tried to see if there was a way to convince him to stay, but it was a personal decision."

Born in the Dominican Republic, Pichardo, 43, is the first New Yorker from the Caribbean country to hold the chief of patrol post, to which he was promoted in December 2019. He is also the highest-ranking Hispanic in the NYPD.

He moved to the United States when he was 9 and grew up on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

"You’re talking about the crack war epidemic," he said of the neighborhood in a January interview with WPIX 11. "I remember users waiting, lined up, waiting to be served crack, heroin or coke."

Asked in an interview in June with the station about a push to take away funding from the NYPD — part of a national "defund the police" movement after mass protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis — Pichardo said: "We have to make sure that that head count continues to stay on par with what we have now."

A week after that interview, the City Council and de Blasio enacted a budget that cut $1.5 billion in NYPD funding — including canceling the July recruit class, cutting overtime and jettisoning plans for a new police precinct — with the money redistributed to social-welfare programs.

By the end of the year, the head count was to be cut to an estimated 34,837 from about 36,000, with the patrol force — headed by Pichardo — supplemented by reassigning officers to the street from desk jobs.

Pichardo had also served as assistant chief of patrol services and the officer-in-charge of the 43rd and 33rd precincts in the Bronx and Manhattan, among other roles since joining the department, according to his LinkedIn profile.

"Since I came on the job in 1999, I wake up each day working to make the streets of New York City safer for police officers and the people we take the sacred oath and are sworn to serve," Pichardo said in a December 2019 news release announcing his promotion to chief of patrol. He took over for Rodney Harrison, who became the NYPD's chief of detectives.

In the news release, Pichardo said: "I'm grateful for this opportunity to continue supporting the thousands of patrol officers who, through Neighborhood Policing, both work to prevent crime from ever happening while also getting to the root of New Yorkers problems, solving them, and keeping people safe."

Pichardo's NYPD Twitter account over the past few days feted officers for finding a stolen car with the thief who took it, seizing illegal guns, distributing face masks to halt the coronavirus spread and combating illegal street racing.

His last major appearance with de Blasio was in early September, when he described precautions taken to discourage the annual J'ouvert in Brooklyn during the pandemic, a Caribbean street party that has been the site of violence for years.

Despite the precautions, a teenager shot six people, including a 6-year-old boy, at an unofficial J'ouvert party and was later arrested and charged with attempted murder.

With Joan Gralla

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