Advice for Miller
May 30, 1994
The doyenne of police public relations, Alice McGillion, has some advice for the beleaguered NYPD spokesman, John Miller. "John has some rebuilding to do. He could have a credibility problem for the immediate future. It's nothing he can't overcome, but he obviously can't do what he did again."
McGillion filled the post Miller holds - the Police Department deputy commissioner for public information - for 10 years under two commissioners until she retired in 1990. Her comments refer to the flap Miller caused recently when he denied making statements to New York Newsday op-ed writer Gabriel Rotello about Daily News columnist Mike McAlary, only to discover Rotello had taped the telephone interview.
"Telling the truth or being perceived as telling the truth is elementary to the job," McGillion said. "The spokesman's voice reflects the credibility of the department."
Miller told Rotello that McAlary had asked him to "bail me out" after McAlary wrote a column calling the Prospect Park rape a hoax. Lab reports revealed semen had been found on the victim, but McAlary wrote another column contending top police sources told him the lab reports were wrong.
McAlary denied asking anyone to bail him out and last week Miller apologized to him for "mischaracterizing" their conversation and to Rotello for "challenging his credibility." Rotello said he accepted the apology; McAlary hasn't been heard from for the past few days. He didn't return calls.
Don't mess with Bill. Commissioner William Bratton's prognosis was right on the money. When DeForrest Taylor, the chief of the housing police, testified recently before the City Council against merging his department with the NYPD, Bratton said: "I guess Franco (Ruben Franco, chairman of the Housing Authority) will have to get another chief." Last Friday, Franco did. Taylor retired, and Joseph Leake, commanding officer of Manhattan North and, rumor has it, a candidate to head departments in Baltimore and New Orleans, was named his successor.
All-American. The 300 members of the Jade Society of Asian police officers celebrated their first annual Asian heritage month last week at One Police Plaza. Among them was Andrew Lee Larson, 27, of the Crime Prevention Division, whose father was Swedish and mother is Chinese, and whose upbringing is quintessentially New York.
Larson grew up in Sunnyside, Queens. His mother was the first Chinese in what he said was then an Irish and Polish neighborhood, and his family didn't always feel welcome. Their apartment and car were repeatedly vandalized and he got into fights "practically every day through Public School 150 and Junior High 125. This was 20 years ago, before there was anything called bias crimes," Larson said. Fortunately, "tensions settled down" by the time he reached Aviation High School.
A Jade Society trustee, Larson said, "It's not a problem being Asian in the Police Department. It's not a problem being Asian on patrol." The department, he said, is aggressively recruiting Asian officers. Now 1 percent of the 30,000-person force is Asian, and the Jade Society hopes to have 1,000 Asian officers by the end of the century.
Reinventing the wheel.
Reinventing the wheel.The Police Department is considering disbanding detective squads and placing them under the control of precinct commanders. This is exactly what was done in the early 1970s under Commissioner Patrick Murphy but abandoned two years later after Murphy left the department.
Tom Scotto, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, who worked under the Murphy system, called it "a total disaster." "Why revisit a concept that was a total failure?" Recently, Scotto sent a memo to retired detectives who worked under Murphy. Though he denies it, sources say he's looking for horror stories to halt the change.
NYPD Blue. It all began when Capt. Bob Martin of the NYPD kissed Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Glazer.
A line of cops and federal investigators followed, each kissing Glazer on the cheek before picking up his plaque at a small ceremony honoring 11 of them for cracking two of the most ruthless murder and kidnapping gangs in city history.
Those kisses also led Glazer's boss, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who stood a few feet away handing out the plaques, to crack, "See what happens when women get in power!"
And when Police Det. Gil Alba gave White a kiss as well, the U.S. attorney who barely tops five feet, gave out with a seven-foot bellow: "Awwww right!"
Finally, it was the turn of the only female investigator in the group to receive her award. As Laura Anne Bykowsky, of the Miami office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, approached Glazer, White called out: "This is a test now." Bykowsky walked up to Glazer, smiled and merely shook her hand.
Email Leonard Levitt at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 1994 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.