Mayor Eric Adams on Friday named his younger brother as a deputy NYPD commissioner, police sources said — a move that immediately raised conflict-of-interest questions.
Bernard Adams was assigned to the office of new Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, sources said. The post — which comes with a yearly salary of around $240,000, according to SeeThroughNY.net — is believed to be temporary. Sources expect Bernard Adams to be transferred elsewhere once other high-level personnel moves are finalized.
The mayor’s office did not answer a request for comment.
Bernard Adams, who is five years younger than the mayor, retired with the rank of sergeant after 20 years of service in 2006. The mayor, 61, retired from the NYPD as a captain.
While the jump to deputy commissioner, a civilian position, is not without precedent, observers at One Police Plaza could not recall any mayor in recent memory having a relative so high up in the police department.
The appointment by Adams, who won office on a tough-on-crime platform, raised eyebrows among government watchdogs.
“New Yorkers expect that public servants are hired based on their unique qualifications and not because they are the mayor’s brother,” Common Cause New York’s Executive Director Susan Lerner said in an email.
“It is unclear whether a waiver from the Conflict of Interest Board would be required for this appointment,” Lerner said. She added: “Even with a waiver, the appointment of the Mayor’s close relative does not inspire public confidence.”
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to get a conflict-of-interest waiver to appoint his sister as commissioner of the New York City Commission to the United Nations in 2002, noted John Kaehny of watchdog group Reinvent Albany.
“And that was an unpaid position,” Kaehny said. “So, it would make sense that Adams’ brother would really need one.”
Bernard Adams, one of the few members of the mayor’s family who appeared with him last year on the campaign trail, described his older brother as his role model when introducing him at an election night party in November.
“We are twins separated at birth — just kidding, don’t print that,” Bernard Adams joked onstage. “I’m so happy to be here this evening with you all. On behalf of the family, thank you, thank you for your support.”
Bernard Adams worked phone banks and handed out literature for his brother’s campaign, he told the Daily News in October.
He said he started his career in the 7th Precinct on the Lower East Side — a tough, heroin-infested neighborhood at the time — and eventually was assigned to the NYPD’s Queens headquarters. His first taste of the job made him want to quit, but his brother persuaded him to stay, Bernard Adams said.
“I always, always, always wanted to be a cop, and that was my life’s dream,” the younger brother recounted. “But then when I got the job, I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this.’”
Eric Adams walked with his brother during one of his first nights on the beat, Bernard Adams said.
“He said, ‘Listen, stay there. Don’t worry. Stay there. Don’t worry,’” the younger brother recounted. “So, I look up, 20 or 30 minutes later he comes walking up the street with my other brother. And I’m like, ‘What are you doing here?’ He said, ‘Listen, you can’t quit.’ And he literally walked my beat with me.”
Bernard Adams was one of numerous plaintiffs in a 2004 federal lawsuit accusing the city of cheating cops out of overtime pay, according to court filings. The litigation — spearheaded by then-president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association Ed Mullins — was settled after mediation.
Most recently, Bernard Adams has worked as an assistant director in charge of parking for Virginia Commonwealth University, according to his LinkedIn profile. He’s lived in Virginia since 2006, he told The News.
Since taking office Jan. 1, the mayor has been on a spree of appointments — which include another pair of brothers, Philip Banks and David Banks.
Philip Banks on Friday announced he’d been appointed as deputy mayor for public safety. Banks shared the development in a News op-ed, taking pains to address controversy from his past.
Banks resigned as the NYPD’s chief of department amid federal investigation of a bribery scandal in 2014. It later emerged that Banks was an unindicted co-conspirator in the case, though he was not charged with wrongdoing.
Banks on Friday wrote that he left the department because the police commissioner at the time wanted to change Banks’ job, not because he was seeking to avoid a departmental investigation.
Earlier this week, Banks told a top NYPD Internal Affairs official who aided the federal probe that he’s going to be replaced, according to police sources.
Mayor Adams recently appointed Philip Banks’ brother David Banks schools commissioner.
Adams, the former Brooklyn borough president, has been drawing on members of his inner circle to fill the ranks of his new mayoral administration.
Earlier this week, he named Brooklyn power broker Frank Carone as chief of staff, and campaign veteran Menashe Shapiro as deputy chief of staff. Longtime lobbyist Tiffany Raspberry was named senior advisor for external affairs.
The appointments of Bernard Adams, Carone and Philip Banks send a troubling message, Kaehny said.
“You’ve got to ask yourself, who does the mayor of New York City feel a duty to? His close friends, family and closest supporters, or the public?” Kaehny said. “It’s old school nepotism.”