Chief Banks addresses Chamber, says he’s prepared to listen
by Daniel P. Bader
Saying that “There has to be compassion with policing” and that he is “always looking to become a better listener,” one of Manhattan’s top cops, Assistant Chief Philip Banks III, spoke at a Washington Heights and Inwood Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting Nov. 17 at Isabella Geriatric Center.
In response from a question from the floor, Banks said his top challenge is dealing with youth gangs, invoking a word that the police have been reluctant to use in classifying the sometimes loose affiliations of uptown teenagers. Also calling the groups “territorial crews,” Banks said, “They seem to be a little more prevalent [here] than in other parts of the city that I have been dealing with.”
Other priorities for Northern Manhattan include bringing down the area’s number of noise complaints – which drew supportive murmurs from the several dozen audience members – and combating an apparent rise in marijuana trafficking.
Banks said he welcomes quality of life issues, such as parking, traffic and illegal street vending (a persistent concern of the Chamber), because “there are solutions out there.”
Responding to a concern raised by Rafael Escaño, representing New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, Banks said he subscribes to the so-called “broken window” brand of policing made famous during the Giuliani administration, although he added that vigilance needs to be tempered with compassion.
Banks was promoted to lead the Patrol Borough Manhattan North command, comprising the borough north of 59th Street, over the summer after its former commander, Assistant Chief Raymond Diaz, was elevated to the Manhattan South command.
Banks, a Brooklyn native, joined the force in 1986 and has served and commanded precincts across the city, most recently serving as executive officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South.
He is married with three children, aged 11, 16 and 21.
The Manhattan Times is the bilingual newspaper of Washington Heights and Inwood.