One Police Plaza

Bill Bratton: It's All in the Spin

August 3, 2015

They say you can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. That would seem especially true in the high-voltage world of NYPD ethnic sensitivities.

Yet Police Commissioner Bill Bratton seems to have pulled it off. How did he do it? It’s all in the spin. 

He spun what appeared to be the demotion of a black chief into a promotion.

The problem surfaced after NYPD Confidential reported two weeks ago that Dep. Insp. Fausto Pichardo was transferred out of the NYPD’s public information office, known as DCPI, where he had been assigned as a liaison to the city’s Hispanic media just 10 months before. He was the highest-ranking Hispanic officer ever assigned to DCPI, and his transfer outraged some Hispanic officers. It was noted by the Spanish language newspaper El Diario, and even prompted a call to Bratton from the office of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the city’s highest Hispanic elected official.

Pichardo’s supporters attributed his transfer to Kim Royster, DCPI’s African-American deputy chief and the office’s commanding officer. Police sources, however, say that her mistreatment of Pichardo had less to do with his being Hispanic than with her own territorial imperatives.

Complicating matters is that Royster is politically connected. She has been a board member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. Her husband, Gregory Thomas, who works in the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, is NOBLE’s newly elected national president.

More significantly, it was Royster — not Bratton — whom Mayor Bill de Blasio called a year and a half ago to inquire about releasing a political supporter. Bishop Orlando Findlayter had been arrested for two outstanding warrants in February, 2014.

So how did Bratton finesse the Royster-Pichardo imbroglio?

On Friday he transferred Royster to the personnel bureau. Meanwhile, top department officials made it out to reporters that her transfer was neither a demotion nor a lateral arabesque. Rather, the department created a position for her. She will coordinate one of the NYPD’s most pressing issues: attracting black recruits. For the first time, the department will combine its medical, psychological and character evaluations under one person. That person will be Royster.
“I’m honored to have been selected for this positon,” Royster said.

Said NYPD Senior Spinmeister, Deputy Commissioner Steve Davis: “Selfishly I’d like to keep her. The department has a bigger need for her.”

The department line is that she will soon be promoted to the two-star rank of assistant chief, which in the NYPD is above a deputy chief. This would make her the first African-American female two-star chief in the NYPD’s history.

That leaves Pichardo. Apparently, Bratton is planning to silk purse him as well. He is now the commander of the 43rd Precinct in the Bronx, one of the busiest houses in the city. Meanwhile, department officials have told reporters that at his first COMPSTAT meeting — where the top brass grill commanders on their crime strategies — he knocked the ball so far out of the park and so impressed Chief of Department James O’Neill that he could soon be promoted to full inspector.


Copyright © 2015 Leonard Levitt