Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday denied anonymous media reports from within the NYPD that its patrol chief, Fausto B. Pichardo, is quitting the police force due to a disagreement with the mayor.
Pichardo’s departure, announced a day earlier after he spent less than 11 months in the post, was actually "based on personal and family factors," de Blasio said at his daily news conference.
"I spoke to him last night several times. I spoke to him this morning. I’m very clear from those conversations, this was a personal decision, a decision based on personal and family factors. He’s a very devoted family man," de Blasio said. "This was something that he felt was important to do for his own family. We have 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."
On Wednesday afternoon, Pichardo’s @NYPDChiefofPatrol twitter account posted that he was officially retiring — and tagged thanks to de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
"Thank you to @NYPDShea and @NYCMayor for always trusting and supporting me while serving in this role," the tweet said. "It has been an honor and privilege to serve the NYPD and the people of this great city."
Pichardo, 43, joined the NYPD in 1999. According to the Empire Center for Public Policy website, his salary in 2018, the latest available year, was $223,890. He’ll be able to collect a pension, which is typically half pay for life.
According to anonymous reports in The New York Times and elsewhere, which de Blasio said were "just not accurate," Pichardo resigned after a row with de Blasio over the patrol chief's failure to respond to the mayor’s phone calls following a long assignment supervising the policing of unrest in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood over COVID-19-related restrictions.
"There was one thing I needed to talk through with him where I think there was some miscommunication, but he and I have talked dozens and dozens of times and had no problem communicating and working through things," de Blasio said Wednesday.
Shea, speaking Wednesday to PIX11 television news, said Pichardo’s departure "surprised" him, but added: "This is the police department of the mayor. … The mayor is free to reach out and talk to people obviously whenever he sees fit."
Patrick Lynch, president of NYPD rank-and-file police officers’ labor union, the Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement: "This is what happens when elected officials play political games with police department operations. Our top talent in all ranks is being driven out the door and public safety is suffering. … We wish Chief Pichardo a long, happy and successful retirement. Wherever he goes next, they will be getting one of our finest."
In an emailed statement to the news media, Anthony Miranda, executive chairman of the National Latino Officers Association, said he heard from within the department that de Blasio was angry at Pichardo for failing to answer those mayoral calls.
"The termination or forced resignation of Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo is an affront to all Hispanics," Miranda said.
Asked at the news conference about the loss of the NYPD's highest-ranking Hispanic, de Blasio said: "If there's any place with a deep bench, it’s the NYPD. There's a lot more leaders coming up and there's a really substantial number of leaders of color and women leaders coming up within the NYPD."