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Internal Affairs' Longtime Chief Speaks His Mind

April 25, 1994

While the Mollen Commission hashes out which of its recommendations on police corruption are politically expedient, here's some straight talk from the master: John Guido, chief of Internal Affairs for 14 years, when it was a model for police departments around the country.

On Police Commissioner William Bratton's suggestion of having cops report corruption anonymously, Guido said Internal Affairs "always had a phone number for anonymous calls. It also had a post office box. What is new here? Don't mislead the public."

On the New York City police culture: "There are many cultures in this Police Department, but the corruption part is stronger than any other. And, a lot of times, it's the sharper cops who are into corruption."

On the Police Academy, which a Mollen Commission draft report suggests closing: "That's where the problem starts, at the inception, at the Police Academy, where even the police instructors hate Internal Affairs. They instill into them [cadets] 'You are the last of the Viking warriors, the world is against you.' "

On Bratton's plan to have uniformed cops make drug arrests: "With cops, you always have to watch them. . . . You'll have officers on roofs, in apartments, loose for two, three hours with no supervision. This is a tremendous corruption hazard. Bratton is more optimistic about cops than I am."

On the appointment of Walter Mack, a civilian and former federal prosecutor as deputy commissioner for Internal Affairs: "He is a dedicated guy, but I am skeptical of someone heading Internal Affairs who wants to work somewhere else after he leaves the department and may be afraid to alienate people. I was never looking to go somewhere else. I had one job. I had no agenda. I never went to police dinners. I never socialized with other chiefs. I never even owned a tuxedo."

Guido retired from IAD in 1986 after 40 years on the job. His parting words proved prophetic: "Five years after I am gone, there will be a major corruption scandal."

Uptown boys. Downtown, they've dubbed Elaine's restaurant "Police Plaza North." The celebrity watering hole on the Upper East Side is where the elite of Bratton's telegenic regime go late at night to meet and greet. Wednesday night, Bratton; his chief lieutenant, Jack Maple; and television-star-turned Deputy Commissioner John Miller were huddling at a rear table.

Apparently taking a cue from Bratton's boss, the mayor, they were having a cozy dinner with a couple of columnists and an editor from Mort Zuckerman's Daily News.

Printable version

Don't go, Joe. Chief of Detectives JosephBorrelli, due to retire this summer at the mandatory age of 63, has been asked by Bratton to stay, possibly with a civilian title. Bratton cited Borrelli's "team player" attitude as a reason to keep him, and two recent successful Borrelli arrests: the accused killers of Officer Sean McDonald, and the alleged Brooklyn Bridge gunman who fired on a van of Hasidic students. He omitted Borrelli's grandest flop: his conclusion that El Sayyid Nosair acted alone in the 1990 slaying of Rabbi Meir Kahane. The government now says that Kahane's murder was the first act in a broad conspiracy that culminated with last year's bombing of the World Trade Center.

C-POP to stay. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's carping to the contrary, the community police officer program appears to be here to stay. "The public will not have a stronger advocate for community policing than Chief Bratton," says Chief of Department John Timoney. "I follow in his footsteps."

Timoney spoke last week before the Citizens Committee of New York, which honored five C-POP cops. They were:

BulletPolice Officers Edward Breslin and John Sinclair of the East Village's Ninth Precinct, who worked with residents and block associations following the Tompkins Square police riot in 1988.

BulletVincent Sorrentino of Brooklyn's 88th Precinct, who played a key role in closing down a Clinton Hill drug supermarket, then formed a local youth baseball league.

BulletSal Maniscalco of Washington Heights' 34th Precinct, who evicted dealers from apartment buildings, changing them from drug havens to safe residences.

BulletRobert Jeroloman of the Bronx' 44th Precinct, who in his first week of community policing discovered a vacant lot used illegally as a parking garage, restaurant and drug trafficking area. Jeroloman used three city agencies to chase its so-called owner. He says that since then reports of drug violations and shots fired in the lot have been reduced 75 percent.

Pension note. Former Chief Aaron Rosenthal was rejected for a tax-free disability pension based on a shoulder injury he suffered when he fell outside One Police Plaza three years ago. Instead, he'll get "ordinary" disability, which is one-half his annual salary of $ 106,590, plus a small increment for each year of service above 20 years, all taxable.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1994 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.