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NYPD commissioner appoints pair in move toward diversity among brass

NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot F. Shea attends

NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot F. Shea attends a promotion ceremony at One Police Plaza on Nov. 26. Credit: Charles Eckert

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced two high-level appointments Wednesday, tapping Chief Rodney Harrison as the new chief of detectives and replacing him as chief of patrol with Chief Fausto Pichardo. Shea said there would be more appointments announced in the coming days.

The appointment of Harrison, 50, an African-American, and Pichardo, 42, a native of the Dominican Republic, were nods by Shea to calls from politicians and advocates that the NYPD reflect the department's diversity in its upper ranks.  

"I think it is good that they look at it," Shea said of the efforts to increase the number of minorities among NYPD brass.

"I am committed to diversity and I never had a second doubt that there will be a lot of pleased people on that front," Shea said, "because we have such talented people and I am committed to advancing them, so stay tuned for more."

After Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced Shea in November as the replacement for then-Commissioner James O'Neill, some politicians complained that high levels of the NYPD didn't reflect the increasing number of minority officers in the department. Asked if de Blasio had any role in the appointments, Shea answered: "This is my selection."

Shea, the chief of detectives before being names commissioner, characterized Harrison's appointment as a lateral move that leaves him with the rank of a three-star chief.  He said Pichard, a two-star chief, would get a third star.

Harrison grew up in south Queens and joined the NYPD in 1991 as a police cadet. He began patrolling in Astoria, Queens in 1994.  He was promoted to detective in 1995 and worked in various detective commands in Brooklyn.  He was chief of detectives in the Brooklyn North command before being appointed chief of patrol.

"I am humbled to become chief of detectives, a position I've always strived for, and will work tirelessly to build the strongest possible cases and bring those that commit crimes to justice," Harrison said in a statement. 

 Pichardo, 42, grew up on the East Side of Manhattan after emigrating to the United States. He joined the NYPD in 1997 as a police cadet and became an officer two years later. He worked in various Manhattan commands and for a time served in the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information before moving to various precincts and office of Chief of Patrol.

"Since I came on the job in 1999," Pichardo said in a statement, "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. "

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