They say you can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. That would seem especially true in the high-voltage world of NYPD ethnic sensitivities.
Yet Commissioner Bill Bratton seems to have pulled it off. How did he do it? It's all in the spin.
NYPD Confidential reported recently that Deputy Insp. Fausto Pichardo was transferred out of the NYPD's public information office, known as DCPI, where for 10 months he had been the liaison to the city's Hispanic media. He was the highest-ranking Hispanic officer assigned to DCPI, and his transfer outraged some Hispanic officers.
Pichardo's supporters attributed his transfer to Kim Royster, DCPI's African-American deputy chief and DCPI's commanding officer. But police sources said her treatment of Pichardo had less to do with him being Hispanic than with her own territorial imperatives.
Royster is politically connected. She has been a board member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. Her husband, Gregory Thomas, who works in the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, is the group's newly elected national president.
More important, it was Royster -- not Bratton -- whom Mayor Bill de Blasio called a year and a half ago to inquire about the release of a political supporter. Bishop Orlando Findlayter had been arrested on two outstanding warrants in February, 2014.
On Friday, Bratton transferred Royster to the personnel bureau. Top NYPD officials said her transfer was neither a demotion nor a lateral move. Rather, the department created a position for her. She will coordinate one of the NYPD's efforts to attract black recruits. For the first time, the department will combine its medical, psychological and character evaluations under one person. That person is Royster.
"I'm honored to have been selected for this position," Royster said.
Said DCPI's head, Deputy Commissioner Steve Davis, "Selfishly, I'd like to keep her. The department has a bigger need for her."
The NYPD line is that she will soon be promoted to the two-star rank of assistant chief, which in the NYPD is above a deputy chief. This would make her the first African-American female two-star chief in NYPD history.
That leaves Pichardo. Apparently, Bratton is planning to take care of him as well. Pichardo now commands the 43rd Precinct in the Bronx. NYPD officials have told reporters that at his first CompStat meeting -- where the top brass grill commanders on crime strategies -- he so impressed Chief of Department James O'Neill that he may soon be promoted to full inspector.
To put an exclamation point on that silk purse, Bratton could promote him the same day he promotes Royster.