Philip Banks, Mayor Adams’ public safety deputy in City Hall, has an NYPD security detail chauffeuring him around town — an unusual use of police resources for someone in his position, law enforcement sources told the Daily News.
NYPD security details are generally reserved for citywide elected officials like the mayor, and it’s rare even for top City Hall advisers to get them, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the matter.
But Banks, Adams’ deputy mayor of public safety and a retired NYPD chief with a scandal-scarred past, has had a detail at least since June, the sources told The News.
“It’s unheard of,” said a retired member of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, which determines if government officials need security details based on threat assessments and other factors. “The mayor and the police commissioner get one. The comptroller, Council speaker and public advocate might have a driver. But a deputy mayor — no. What’s the security risk to him?”
The NYPD did not return a request for comment on why or when a detail was assigned to Banks. Adams, who served with Banks in the NYPD and has counted him a close friend for decades, declined to comment via a spokesman.
The Adams spokesman would not say if Adams’ four other deputy mayors have NYPD details.
Banks did not return phone calls last week, but played coy over text messages when asked about his detail. “Write anything you believe is important, just spell my name correct,” he wrote in a text.
The NYPD officer typically tasked with driving Banks is Det. Robert Carter, one of the sources familiar with the matter said.
A 20-year NYPD veteran, Carter was also on former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s detail, a job that included transporting de Blasio’s wife, former First Lady Chirlane McCray.
While driving McCray on Aug. 12, 2015, Carter got into a four-car pileup on the FDR Drive, as first reported by The News. Neither McCray nor Carter were injured, and years later City Hall officials blamed the accident on another motorist.
Nonetheless, the city issued a $30,000 payout in 2020 to the driver whose car was struck by Carter’s SUV. The Law Department said at the time that the settlement was “in the best interest of the city and the NYPD.”
Hank Sheinkopf, a political strategist who has served in various municipal government posts, including as a Port Authority cop, said he could only recall NYPD details being reserved for citywide elected officials and top-ranking police brass.
“It’s highly unusual for a deputy mayor to have a detail,” he said, before making a reference to high attrition rates at the NYPD in recent years: “We don’t have enough cops to keep our streets safe, so why is a cop chauffeuring Philip Banks around?”
City Hall and the NYPD would not divulge how much Banks’ detail costs taxpayers, whether it’s around-the-clock or how many officers are assigned to it.
According to Adams’ recently released first mayoral management report, the average fuel and repair costs for a single vehicle in the city government’s fleet were $12,696 in the last fiscal year. That price tag — calculated by dividing the total number of cars in the fleet with all fuel and repair costs incurred in the last fiscal year — does not include wages for drivers and other related expenses.
There is a history of concerns over how NYPD security details are deployed.
After a years-long probe, the Department of Investigation found in 2021 that de Blasio and his family misused their detail for various personal and political reasons, including employing it as the then-mayor’s transport across the country during his failed 2020 presidential campaign.
The details about Banks’ security come on the heels of revelations about how he spends his days as deputy mayor.
Schedules covering Banks’ first five months, obtained by The News via a Freedom of Information Law request and first reported by news outlet The City, show he has met several times with top NYPD chiefs without Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell present. That’s in spite of the fact that Banks’ portfolio isn’t supposed to include overseeing the NYPD, as the police commissioner typically reports directly to the mayor.
Asked Friday about Banks’ expansive role, Adams said the deputy mayor’s solo sit-downs with NYPD chiefs are not extraordinary because Adams expects him to be “in charge of the entire law enforcement apparatus.”
In 2014, Banks abruptly resigned as the NYPD’s chief of department, its highest-ranking uniformed post. Shortly thereafter, it emerged that the FBI was looking into his relationship with a couple of Brooklyn businessmen who were years later convicted of an attempted scheme to bribe top police and city government officials in order to secure official favors.
The feds named Banks an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the scheme, and a judge approved a wiretap on suspicion that he was involved in crimes, according to court records.
Banks was never charged with a crime, though. In an opinon piece published by The News in January after Adams appointed him deputy mayor, Banks defended himself, writing it’s “100% false” to suggest he ever traded official favors for compensation from the businessmen, Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg.
But, Banks wrote, “These two men were attempting to corrupt public officials — and I now regret the time I spent with them.”