Following a falling-out with Mayor de Blasio, the NYPD’s Chief of Patrol, Fausto Pichardo, said Oct. 13 he would be leaving the department, less than a year after being named to the high-profile post.
Chief Pichardo, one of the NYPD’s most-respected cops and its top Latino officer, was reportedly angered after being berated by Mr. de Blasio for not having answered the Mayor’s phone calls as protests by Orthodox Jewish residents, upset by newly imposed COVID-related restrictions in Brooklyn, escalated earlier this month.
Another Challenge for NYPD
As Patrol Chief, Mr. Pichardo, 43, commanded the largest of the NYPD’s bureaus, its eight commands and 77 precincts. His announced departure poses yet another challenge for a department battling a significant rise in violent crime, coping with a record number of officer retirements and contending with large-scale protests and demonstrations, most calling attention to allegations of police brutality here and elsewhere.
In a statement, the NYPD said Chief Pichardo “has worked tirelessly in recent months to guide the men and women in uniform through a series of challenging issues that have strained the city and the agency” and added that he was “one of the most highly respected leaders in policing.”
Mr. Pichardo was appointed Chief of Patrol last December shortly after Commissioner Dermot Shea was tapped to succeed James P. O’Neill. Before that, as an Assistant Chief and Executive Officer in that bureau, Mr. Pichardo was instrumental in the roll-out of the department’s neighborhood-policing initiatives and directed officer deployments to high-crime neighborhoods.
Although Mr. de Blasio said Oct. 14 that he had spoken with Mr. Pichardo several times since the Chief’s announced departure to try to convince him to rescind it, neither Mr. Pichardo nor the department indicated anything other than that he would be leaving the department, likely sometime in November. Mr. de Blasio did not allude to the reported clash, suggesting instead that the Chief was leaving for other, “personal” reasons.
“I'm very clear from those conversations this was a personal decision, a decision based on personal and family factors,” he said during his daily news briefing. “We have rarely disagreed in these months, working very closely together in very, very tough times. So, he's someone I hold in high regard.”
Mayor Dismisses ‘Rumors’
Mr. de Blasio dismissed as part of the “rumor mill” claims that the two had a disagreement regarding unreturned phone calls.
“That’s just not accurate. There was one thing I needed to talk through with him where I think there was some miscommunication, but he and I have talked dozens and dozens of times and had no problem communicating and working through things,” he said.
The Mayor also characterized as “not accurate” the assertion that he had intruded on the NYPD’s chain of command.
“I have a close working relationship with a lot of the key leaders of the Police Department. We've been working shoulder to shoulder through so much, we've all talked constantly,” he said.
The president of the Police Benevolent Association, which represents the department’s rank-and-file Officers, though, laid the blame for Mr. Pichardo's departure squarely on Mr. de Blasio.
“This is what happens when elected officials play political games with Police Department operations,” Patrick J. Lynch said in an Oct. 14 statement. “Our top talent in all ranks is being driven out the door and public safety is suffering. City Hall’s amateur-hour meddling has left the NYPD broken, almost beyond repair.”
He called Chief Pichardo “one of our finest.”
In a pair of tweets Oct. 14, Mr. Pichardo did not betray discontent with the Mayor, thanking both him and Commissioner Shea “for always trusting and supporting me while serving in this role. It has been an honor and privilege to serve the NYPD and the people of this great city.”
He also thanked “all of the men and women of the NYPD for the remarkable work that you do day in and day out for all New Yorkers.
"Every interaction that you have is an opportunity to forge a greater bond with those we serve.”
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