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NYC Public Safety Chief's Choice Delayed by Ethics Issues

As New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams sought to fill the top law enforcement posts certain to be crucial to his administration, he relied heavily on Philip Banks III, a former top police official who abruptly retired from the department while under federal investigation in 2014. For weeks, Mr. Adams has been expected to tap Mr. Banks to continue serving as his voice and his ears on law enforcement issues from inside City Hall, as deputy mayor for public safety. Now Banks' appointment seems to be in limbo, the New York Times reports. Amid questions about Banks’s past, some of Adams’s advisers have discussed whether to put Banks in a different role. The debate has stalled the announcement.

Adams has no qualms about Banks, but his team has taken time to consider how to structure his potential job. Banks resigned from the Police Department in 2014 as he was to be promoted to become the top deputy to Police Commissioner William Bratton, then the commissioner. A day earlier, the FBI sought a judge’s approval for a wiretap to eavesdrop on his phone calls and those of others who were under scrutiny. Federal authorities were investigating a suspected illegal liquor distribution ring; prosecutors named Banks as an unindicted co-conspirator in a public corruption case that grew from the same investigation and that widened to include the mayor and other high-ranking police officials. Indictments were filed, leading to convictions, including that of Norman Seabrook, the president of the correction officers’ union. Evidence showed Banks accepted gifts from people seeking to influence officials, but he was never charged. The deputy mayor for public safety role is a pivotal one for Adams, says reducing crime and restoring confidence in the police is key to the city’s recovery.

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