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Kim Royster: It's All in the Spin [Cont]
February 27, 2017
Was it the old boys’ network at 1 Police Plaza or a sisterly squabble that led to last week’s transfer of NYPD Assistant Chief Kim Royster? And does her diminished role indicate she is no longer a favorite of the police commissioner or of City Hall?
Royster, who is one of the fewer than 10 female chiefs in the 35,000-person department and its first black female to be promoted to assistant chief, was bounced from the Personnel Bureau, where a job had been created for her. She was transferred to the backwater of the Community Affairs Bureau at Police Plaza.
Since her promotion to deputy chief by former Commissioner Ray Kelly in October, 2013, Royster has appeared to enjoy protected status. In February 2014, Royster — and not then-Commissioner Bill Bratton — was contacted by Mayor Bill de Blasio to effect the release of a prominent black minister and campaign supporter who had been arrested on two outstanding warrants, sparing him a night in jail.
Her promotion followed the transfer of Deputy Inspector Fausto Pichardo after only 10 months. Supporters of Pichardo, the office’s highest-ranking Hispanic officer, blamed Royster. As a well-placed Hispanic officer put it at the time, “Everyone knew Fausto was having issues with her. No one helped him because of her political connections.”
In the NYPD’s world of high-voltage ethnic sensitivities, Bratton transferred Royster to the Personnel Bureau, creating a new position. She reported to Deputy Commissioner Michael Julian, and she was to coordinate one of the NYPD’s pressing needs: attracting more black recruits — in particular black males, whose numbers in the NYPD have declined in the past 30 years. A month later, Bratton promoted Royster to assistant chief. [In the NYPD, assistant chief is a rank above deputy chief.]
Now, just 18 months later, Royster is out of the Personnel Bureau. The knock on her from the big boys at Police Plaza — which is the knock they place on other female chiefs — is that she lacks operational experience, i.e. experience on the street.
Department sources say she also feuded with her new boss, three-star chief Diana Pizzuti, who took over the Personnel Bureau five months ago. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity about last week’s transfer, say Pizzuti was not impressed with Royster’s recruiting efforts.
If Royster had been favored by Kelly and Bratton (to say nothing of City Hall), Pizzuti appears to be favored by Commissioner James O’Neill. As an assistant chief heading Queens Patrol Borough North, Pizzuti was found to have violated conflict of interest rules by accepting free meals at pricey restaurants from ex-Queens Library head Thomas Galante. Just weeks after becoming commissioner in September, O’Neill promoted her, rather than Royster, to head the Personnel Bureau.
Royster will now report to Joanne Jaffe, the three-star chief who heads Community Affairs.
Neither she nor Pizzuti returned calls seeking comment.
Asked about clashes between her and Pizzuti, Royster said, “I will not entertain that conversation.”
Asked about her relationship with Jaffe, she said, “She’s got knowledge and experience. I can learn a lot from her.”
Of her new position at Community Affairs, she said, “I am a professional soldier. I serve the police department and the community.”
Copyright © 2017 Leonard Levitt