NEW YORK: The New York Police Department has appointed Peter Donald, former public affairs specialist for the FBI, as director of communications, effective June 15.
Donald, who worked at the FBI since 2010, confirmed the new role at the NYPD. He declined to offer additional details about the position.
Donald wrote to his former FBI colleagues that he’s "thrilled to take on this new challenge, but your professionalism and talent have made it very hard to leave," in an email obtained by PRWeek.
"It has been an absolute privilege to play a small role in promoting the exceptional work of this organization; helping catch bad guys through earned media; finding new ways to communicate; and ensuring good work, when appropriate, gets recognized," he added, in the note.
FBI representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Donald is reporting to Steve Davis, deputy commissioner of public information for the NYPD, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Prior to Donald, the NYPD has not employed a communications director under Commissioner William Bratton, the source said.
"His experience at the FBI New York office of public affairs will benefit us in our collaboration with our New York City law enforcement and government partners, as well as the local and national media," said Deputy Commissioner Steve Davis, via email. "[Donald] brings particular skills in the very important area of social media and agency communications. We are glad to have him on board."
In 2014, Donald was named one of PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 honorees. During his time at the Bureau, he managed communications for major news stories such as the investigation into the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and the renewed search in 2012 for Etan Patz, who disappeared in Manhattan in 1979, when he was a six-year-old boy.
He also worked to publicize the FBI’s crackdown on insider trading and produced a PSA featuring Michael Douglas reprising his iconic Gordon Gekko role from the classic film Wall Street. The announcement received front-page coverage in The Wall Street Journal and by major TV networks.
Prior to the FBI, Donald was a senior associate at integrated communications and event management firm Smith Fairfield in Washington, DC, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also previously served as a national advance representative for the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008.
The NYPD has had no shortage of controversy in the last six months. At the end of 2014, protests spread across New York City after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who last summer placed a deadly chokehold on unarmed black man Eric Garner.
This January, NYPD officers turned their backs to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio at a number of public events, including funerals for two officers slain in December.
And this month, Bratton has faced backlash for comments he made about not being able to find enough qualified black police officers to hire. The commissioner contended that his comments were taken out of context.
This story was updated on June 15 with comment from Davis.