Top cop Bill Bratton admitted on Wednesday that the corruption scandal roiling his department is historically bad — saying the NYPD hasn’t been through a darker period since the early 1970s.
“You’d have to probably go back to the Knapp Commission days to find one that has that focus on the senior leadership of the department,” Bratton told The Post’s Editorial Board.
“Back in the Knapp days, it was so pervasive throughout the department.”
That investigation exposed rampant bribe-taking at all ranks of the department, led to criminal charges against dozens of crooked cops and derailed the presidential ambitions of then-Mayor John Lindsay.
Bratton’s comments came as a fifth NYPD commander the head of Manhattan North Patrol Borough was demoted amid the widening probe into police bosses trading favors for gifts.
Sources then revealed that the commander’s counterpart in Manhattan South had also been questioned by the feds.
Bratton credited his Internal Affairs Bureau for initiating the investigation in late 2013, and insisted he remained plugged in even after the FBI swooped in a few months later.
“I get constant updates, including one [Tuesday] for several hours,” he said.
Bratton warned there might be more rogue cops.
“We’re at that stage of the investigation where witnesses are now being interviewed in person. And each interview has the potential to yield new information. We will evaluate that literally on a daily basis,” Bratton said.
He refused to say when he learned about allegations involving ex-NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks, who abruptly quit in October 2014 rather than accept a promotion to first deputy commissioner, the No. 2 job.
Banks’ bloated financial statements raised red flags, and he is suspected of accepting gifts and travel from two businessmen at the heart of the scandal.
“We really can’t, at this point, since the investigation is ongoing and we’re still interviewing witnesses, we can’t talk about what was known about each and every [subject] over the last two years,” Bratton said.
“That will come later, if the US Attorney’s Office decides to file charges against anyone.”
Bratton also said it was “coincidental” that he transferred four commanders including 19th Precinct Deputy Inspector James Grant just hours after that Grant was suspected of accepting diamonds and cash for escorting Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg from the airport following diamond-buying trips overseas.
“It had nothing to do with [it], quite frankly, none of it,” Bratton said. “This has been ongoing for over two years. At each stage of the investigation, we learn more information. As we said last week, we were acting on the information we had accumulated to date.”
Bratton touched on an array of other topics during his hour-plus visit including fading police morale.
“Cops have been complaining about morale since police forces were created.
I used to complain about it a lot when I was a young cop,” he said.
“A lot of the morale problems, at this particular point in time, I’m being hard pressed to understand whether it has to do with things I control . . . The one thing I don’t control is pay.”