The NYPD on Thursday tapped veteran Chief Juanita Holmes, the department's highest-ranking Black uniformed officer, to be its first-ever female chief of patrol, where she'll command about 20,000 cops in one of law enforcement’s most high-pressure jobs.
Holmes, 56, a Suffolk County resident, will supervise a small army of cops — among the department's more than 34,000 officers — that handle regular patrol work but also large assignments such as demonstrations and parades.
She succeeds Chief Fausto Pichardo, who retired earlier this month after eight months on the job. Law enforcement sources said Pichardo, the highest ranking Hispanic in the NYPD, left because of Mayor Bill de Blasio's micromanagement of policing. De Blasio later said reports about why Pichardo left were inaccurate.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and de Blasio announced Holmes’s promotion at the mayor’s daily news briefing. Both men lauded her career and commitment to policing that began in1987. Since then, Holmes has steadily risen through the ranks and commanded a number of NYPD precincts as well as major departments.
"I think she is the complete package," Shea said.
Holmes initially retired in December 2018 to take a private sector job as global head of corporate security at BNY Mellon. She rejoined the NYPD in December 2019. Earlier this year, Shea appointed Holmes to chief of collaborative policing, a job seen as critical to the department’s neighborhood policing strategy.
At the news conference, Holmes said she comes from a long line of city cops and several of her relatives work for the NYPD.
"The NYPD is my family," she said. "Literally, I have 16 immediate family members that serve with me in this department and proud to do so. I also have the family, my NYPD family, which is my inherited family, my chosen family."
Shea said of Holmes appointment: "I couldn't be more proud to be here with her and with the Holmes family. … There are — you hear about Blue families and police families — but then there is the Holmes family, which is really … kind of like the Brady Bunch."
Holmes has worked in Brooklyn and Queens precincts and in various police borough commands. She also worked in the NYPD’s domestic violence unit.
In 2011, Holmes was herself a victim of domestic violence in Islip. She was injured in a fight with her husband, William Fowlkes III, a retired Hempstead Village police detective. Fowlkes, 47 at the time, plead guilty to third-degree assault and criminal trespass, both misdemeanors, and disorderly conduct, a violation, according to the Suffolk district attorney's office. First District Court Judge G. Ann Spelman sentenced Fowlkes to three years probation and ordered him to attend a domestic violence program.
The appointment of Holmes, who some department insiders have said was a possible candidate for the job of chief of department or even police commissioner, was among several high level appointments announced by Shea Thursday.
Other appointments included Chief Edward Delatorre as head of labor relations; Assistant Chief Kim Royster as Chief of Transportation and Assistant Chief Kathleen O’Reilly as Chief of Transit.