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Chief briefs 109th council on juveniles and terrorists

Chief Philip Banks III (l.) speaks to the 109th Precinct Community Council as 109th Precinct Deputy Inspector Brian Maguire looks on. Photo by Connor Adams Sheets
TimesLedger Newspapers

Chief Philip Banks III, the 25-year veteran, four-star head of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau, spoke for nearly an hour about issues that affect the people of the 109th Precinct during the precinct’s Oct. 12 community council meeting, responding to individual questions and explaining how citywide police initiatives will affect every city resident.

“This is the best part of my job,” he told the packed council meeting room at the 109th’s station house in downtown Flushing. “This gives me an opportunity to hear from all of you about your concerns and what’s going on in the community, and then I take that back to headquarters.”

Banks, who lives in Queens, began the evening with a lengthy overview of his extensive career, which has taken him from Brooklyn to the city’s waterways, then from Queens to a post in Central Park and finally to his current role at 1 Police Plaza in Lower Manhattan.

In his time on the job, he has become an expert communicator and the lead player in distributing and explaining the department’s message to the people it serves and protects.

One of the key programs he took the time to discuss during the meeting was the Community Affairs Bureau’s new Juvenile Justice Division, which is aimed at keeping youths as young as 10 and 11 years old from joining gangs and entering the criminal world.

“With the Juvenile Justice Division, we’re going to be looking to have a positive impact on the youth and their families because we’d rather get them on the right side of the tracks now rather than have to throw them against the wall a few years from now,” Banks said.

The division will use a variety of means to reach youngsters, from sending first-time, non-violent offenders to mandatory evening programs aimed at keeping them from engaging in illicit behavior, and learning to speak in their slang in order to have a greater chance of working with them.

Banks also said terrorists never sleep, so the NYPD will continue to be constantly vigilant about terror threats in order to keep New Yorkers safe.

“Counter-terrorism remains and will remain one of the particular focuses of the Police Department, and it will remain that way for many years as New York City remains the No. 1 terror target,” he told the crowd.

And he did not shy from discussion of Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement that has generated controversy for the department as its approach on how to handle it has evolved in light of its enduring presence in Manhattan’s Financial District, although he did not declare support or opposition to the protest.

“We have been sending a lot of resources to the individuals that are involved in this particular protest,” he said. “I will say that the country was built on protest and they have the right for their particular views to be heard.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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