Was it the old boys’ network at 1 Police Plaza, or a sisterly squabble, that led to last week’s transfer of NYPD Assistant Chief Kim Royster? And, does her new role indicate she is no longer a favorite of the commissioner or of City Hall?
Royster — one of fewer than 10 females chiefs in the 35,000-person department and the NYPD’s first black female assistant chief — was bounced from the Personnel Bureau, where a job was created for her. She was transferred to the backwater of the Community Affairs Bureau at Police Plaza.
Since her promotion to deputy chief by then-Commissioner Ray Kelly in 2013, Royster appeared to enjoy protected status. In 2014, Royster, not then-Commissioner Bill Bratton, was contacted by Mayor Bill de Blasio to effect the release of a minister and campaign supporter who had been arrested on two warrants, sparing him a night in jail. Then in 2015, Bratton spun what appeared to be her demotion as the commanding officer of the Public Information Office into a promotion. Deputy Insp. Fausto Pichardo was transferred out of PIO. And supporters of Pichardo, the office’s highest-ranking Hispanic officer, blamed Royster for the transfer.
At the Personnel Bureau, she reported to Deputy Commissioner Michael Julian, and she was to coordinate one of the NYPD’s pressing needs: attracting black recruits. A month later, Bratton promoted Royster to assistant chief.
Now, Royster is out of the Personnel Bureau. The knock on her from the big boys at Police Plaza — the knock many of them place on female chiefs — is that she lacks operational experience, that is, experience on the street.
Department sources say she also feuded with her new boss, Chief Diana Pizzuti, who took over the bureau after Julian retired. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to talk openly about last week’s transfer, say Pizzuti was not impressed with Royster’s recruiting efforts.
If Royster was favored by Kelly and Bratton, Pizzuti appears to be favored by Commissioner James O’Neill. He promoted her, rather than Royster, to head the bureau. Royster will now report to Joanne Jaffe, the chief at community affairs. Neither Jaffe nor Pizzuti returned calls.
Asked about her new position, Royster said, “I am a professional soldier. I serve the police department and the community.”