After proposing to bring back solitary confinement, telling the public they can’t criticize his policing ideas and vowing to fight violence by bringing back an undercover squad that was disbanded over its own violence, New York’s ex-cop mayor has done it again, putting another ex-cop who was branded an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a federal investigation in charge of his anti-violence efforts.
Philip Banks III was named to his post as deputy mayor for public safety earlier this month. The position isn’t new but is controversial, as the New York Times pointed out, because Banks’ police career ended with him resigning in 2014 while the Feds were investigating him for corruption. He was never charged. Now, his role in NYC government is to oversee Adams’ very ‘90s-style strategy for reducing crime as violence reaches their highest levels in decades.
Since this is the kind of stuff you can’t make up, we’ll let you read the details on who’s now in charge of crime fighting in New York.
From the New York Times
His voice was recorded on federal wiretaps. His luxury overseas trips were scrutinized. His massages, golf outings and steak dinners were carefully cataloged.
In the end, U.S. prosecutors documented a range of questionable behavior by Philip Banks III: As a top New York City police official, he accepted paid vacations to the Dominican Republic and Los Angeles, sushi platters, cigars — even a ring worn by Muhammad Ali — from two businessmen who sought power through connections to New York City leaders.
The conduct, detailed by federal investigators, revealed a willingness by Mr. Banks to embrace favor seekers while occupying a powerful government position. It also led prosecutors to label him an unindicted co-conspirator in an expansive corruption scheme that reached Mayor Bill de Blasio and led to prison time for Mr. Banks’s close friend Norman Seabrook, the leader of the city’s correction officers’ union, among others.
Now, seven years later, Mr. Banks has become the top criminal justice official at City Hall, appointed this month by Mayor Eric Adams to oversee Mr. Adams’s highest priority, public safety.
To be clear, this isn’t a story about politics. If you live in New York and voted for Eric Adams, you’re probably people in lots of cities who are now concerned with a surge in violent crime that has disrupted years of reductions in violence in addition to the movement to dismantle toxic and violent policing culture.
This is about the potential danger of allowing elements of that culture rise to positions of power. Adams’ approach to crime reduction may yet work. Flooding New York’s streets and subways with more cops might make some people feel safe (though those people are unlikely to look like Adams or Banks, what with them being Black men). Bringing back the anti-gun squad might actually reduce gun violence.
Maybe Adams has figured out how to do all this while respecting civil liberties and keeping a lid on abusive cops who can’t wait to get back to the mythical ‘Guiliani time’. But nothing we know about American policing suggests that a former cop who seems to value cronyism and who put another former cop that narrowly escaped federal indictment in charge of the rest of the cops, is a safe solution for the millions of Black and Latinx people in the world’s largest city.
Y’all stay safe.