NBC New York – The new highest-ranking uniformed officer at the NYPD said Friday the community must work together with police to keep the city safe.

Philip Banks III was named the chief of department this week, replacing Joseph Esposito, who retired after more than a decade in the post. Banks was previously in charge of community affairs, and said his years there have helped him understand the city and its needs.

“We have to keep this city safe. And when I say we, I don’t mean just the New York City police department. It’s not just an ‘us’ job. It’s everybody in New York City,” he said.

Banks, 50, whose father was also a police officer, joined the nation’s largest police department in July 1986 in Brooklyn and worked his way up the ranks. He takes over as third in command behind Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro during a challenging time for the NYPD.

Crime is at historic lows, but there has been a steady increase of criticism over some of the department’s tactics. An ongoing trial in federal court is challenging the constitutionality of some of the nearly 5 million street stops made by police in the past decade. And last week, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said broad support had been reached to create an inspector general post following an outcry over street stops, and surveillance of Muslims as revealed in stories by The Associated Press.

Banks, who opposes the inspector general idea as does the police commissioner and mayor, said he believes there is widespread support for the police department.

“I think by and large that the overwhelming majority of New York City supports the police department. I think they respect the police department. I think that they like the way we are handing our role doing policing,” he said.

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