Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. held no words back in criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio over the sudden resignation of NYPD Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo, which sources said happened after de Blasio attempted to reach him by phone during the heat of the protests in Brooklyn’s Borough Park last week, even after he had left the scene.
Some top cops told the Bronx Times that “micromanaging” was “a breach of the chain of command” in which mayors in the past would contact the commissioner or his deputies rather than call command chiefs in the field for updates.
Chief Pichardo will retire after serving 21 years as a police officer, one of the younger members of the top ranks of the NYPD. Commissioner Dermot Shea has 30 years in the department. Pichardo was in charge of tens of thousands of uniform cops in the field.
The chief was at the Borough Park protests on Wednesday and directed officers to stop egg throwers in a building adjacent to where Orthodox Jewish demonstrators had gathered. That roof was cleared, and then some commanders claimed Pichardo left the site — leaving Deputy Chief Charles Scholl, the most experienced commander available, as the ranking cop at the site to keep the protest under control.
Hundreds of officers were brought in to contain the protest within a two-block area. While the Orthodox Jewish demonstrators were not hostile to police, most journalists present there reported threats from members of the crowd. In one case, Jewish journalist Jacob Kornbluh was assaulted and chased onto 47th Street where cops were able to prevent further attacks.
“There is a chain of command and we’ve never heard of the mayor calling a chief of patrol – it always went through the commissioner,” one top cop said.
Published reports indicated that when Pichardo got home from what was a 15-hour shift and missed a call from de Blasio — and according to the New York Post, the mayor summoned the chief to City Hall on Friday to chew him out for the oversight.
On Saturday night, the Mayor’s office reportedly texted Pichardo several times about a house party in the Bronx, with the constant texting viewed as “meddling,” and again, “not following a chain of command.” Pichardo apparently believed the incident could be adequately handled by a precinct commander.
Pichardo held several high-profile positions, including commanding officer of the 43rd Precinct in Soundview and commander in the 33rd Precinct in Washington Heights.
He was promoted in December, where he sat next to now Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison, who had worked for in the past.
With reporting from Todd Maisel