De Blasio runs against Ray Kelly, but would consider Kelly’s top deputy as a replacement

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De Blasio on Tenth Avenue. (Reid Pillifant)
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Bill de Blasio has made a point of distinguishing himself from Christine Quinn by promising that he would replace Ray Kelly as police commissioner, in order to overhaul the stop-and-frisk policy championed by Kelly.

But he wouldn't wouldn't necessarily stray too far in looking for a replacement.

In an interview with Salon editor Joan Walsh that was posted today, de Blasio says he'd consider Kelly's top deputy, Philip Banks III, who currently serves as chief of department, to serve as commissioner in his administration.

"[O]ur current chief Philip Banks is someone who should be considered, but it’s premature to have a short list…," says de Blasio, who also mentions former commissioner Bill Bratton as a possibility.

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After a press conference on the city's living wage law this afternoon, I asked de Blasio, who has been so critical of the department's conduct, why he would consider replacing Kelly with one of the commissioner's chief deputies.

De Blasio told me "it just stands to reason" to consider both Bratton and Banks.

"You know, Bratton did an incredible job both here and L.A.," de Blasio said. "And I think he really believes in community policing. He's been one of the great leaders in the community policing movement in this country.

"Chief Banks is the highest uniformed officer of the NYPD, and he's spoken I think very candidly about the problems associated with stop-and-frisk," he continued. "And as an African-American, he's spoken out about some of the problems that have been created, and I really admire him for that."

When he was promoted by Kelly in March, Banks told the Daily News about being stopped in the early 1980s, when he was visiting his old block in Crown Heights on a break from college. Banks said one of the officers was unprofessional and the experience stuck with him.

But it's not at all clear Banks shares de Blasio's view that the current system is an outrage, and in need of an overhaul. According to the same Daily News story, he supports the program as administered under Kelly:

The memory of being mistreated by police has influenced Banks’ thinking on policing, but it has not kept him from endorsing the NYPD’s controversial practice of stopping and frisking people acting suspiciously in a citywide effort to take guns off the street.

“I certainly believe that stop, question and frisk is an effective strategy when it’s done correctly,” Banks said after his formal appointment to the position Thursday.

De Blasio suggested it would be a prerequisite for his policie commissioner to share his vision for stop-and-frisk reform.

"The bottom line is that I have to be convinced that the next commissioner will fundamentally change the approach, will guarantee that we only use stop-and-frisk in a constitutional manner, and will focus on the healing that we need between police and communities, and really implement a community policing philosophy," he said.