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OpinionColumnistsLeonard Levitt

Lingering questions about NYPD promotions

The NYPD is skill at conning the public, especially when promoting black female officers.

The crest on the jacket of a New

The crest on the jacket of a New York City Police Officer while on patrol on May 19, 2011. Photo Credit: Getty Images / tillsonburg

While the white boys atop the NYPD quietly promoted Paul Deentremont to deputy chief just months after he rescinded his retirement, the department last month promoted Donna Jones, proclaiming her the third black female assistant chief in its history.

“It’s another historical woman,” said Kim Royster, the NYPD’s first African-American female assistant chief.

That’s one way to look at it. But what Jones’ promotion actually reveals is the NYPD’s skill at conning the public, especially when promoting black female officers.

Jones’ assignment is heading the Criminal Justice Bureau, which is a dumping ground for discredited chiefs, much as the motor pool and the property clerk’s office are dumping grounds for discredited cops.

Back in the day, the bureau was merely a one-star deputy chief’s job. That was when the NYPD culture held that if a chief ran afoul of his boss, he retired. That changed in the 1990s, when then-two-star Assistant Chief Rafael Piñeiro and three-star Chief of Detectives Charles Reuther were sent there after running afoul of their boss, Chief of Department Louis Anemone. So then-two-star Chief Piñeiro reported to a three-star Reuther, with neither having much authority.

Jones, meanwhile, had been commander of the bureau for the past six months as a one-star deputy chief.

Royster herself is an example of increased stars but fewer responsibilities. Her rise appears to owe as much to her perceived political connections as it does to her abilities. In February 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the release of Bishop Orlando Findlayter, a prominent minister and supporter who had been arrested on two outstanding warrants. De Blasio called Royster, not then-Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Royster was then deputy chief and commanding officer of the Public Information Office, a high-profile job. A year later, she was transferred after complaints that she had pushed out her top Hispanic subordinate.

The wily Bratton then turned a potential dump into a promotion. He transferred Royster to the Personnel Bureau, gave her a second star as an assistant chief and announced a new position for her, heading a recruitment drive for minority officers. In 2017, she was transferred again, this time to the backwater Community Affairs Department.

That bureau is known in the NYPD as a female (whether black, white or Hispanic) track job. No white boys.

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