At his first meeting with the news media Thursday as the new NYPD chief of department, Philip Banks III, got thrown a curve ball. Does the fact that a new mayor will take over in less than a year make him nervous about his job security? asked one reporter.
"I never gave it a thought until just now, should I be afraid?" replied Banks, in a response that drew chuckles.
The way things have been going, it isn't likely Banks, who now holds the NYPD's highest uniformed job, has to worry about career reversals in the near future.
Just minutes earlier, Banks, 50, the son of retired NYPD Lt. Philip Banks Jr., officially got his promotion to loud cheers and applause from a crowd in the auditorium of police headquarters in lower Manhattan that included his father. It was a day for promotions and scores of new sergeants and detectives were sworn into their new jobs, along with civilians who received new postings.
Meeting reporters with NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, Banks, the second black to hold the job, fielded questions about how his appointment might improve relations between the NYPD and minority communities.
"I think it is going to improve relationships with all communities because I don't treat the minority any different from other communities," Banks said. "My whole career, I always believed that law enforcement was tied to police-community relations."
In his 26-year career, Banks, who lives in St. Albans, was chief of community affairs and had been in various commands in Brooklyn as well as the Central Park precinct and the harbor unit. He replaces Joseph Esposito, who is retiring.
Asked about the controversy over stop-and-frisk tactics, Banks said it was a strategy he believed kept the streets clear of weapons and violence.
"I certainly believe that stop, question and frisk is an effective strategy when it is done correctly," Banks said. "We certainly in the police department don't want to have any strategy which certainly alienates us with the communities we do serve. I don't believe there is a total alienation. We have looked at it, we have implemented some changes."