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Happy to See You Get Your Transfer

April 10, 1995

Probably no one is happier in New York at the transfer of Chief Ray Abruzzi to head the Brooklyn detective division than Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Until Abruzzi's transfer last month, the no-nonsense, 34-year veteran headed the Queens detective unit, where he and Brown tangled.

Last fall Abruzzi protested when Brown ordered the summary arrest of state Correction Officer Edwin Flores after Flores shot and killed a parole violator outside a South Jamaica housing project. Because the police investigation had not determined Flores acted improperly, Brown promised not to arrest him unless a grand jury indicted him. Brown later ordered Flores' arrest, fearing a riot at the project. The grand jury never filed charges against him.

Brown also took the unusual step of subpoenaing the files in two high-profile robbery cases handled by two Abruzzi aides, Capt. Bob Cea and Lt. Kenney Carlson. The subpoenas came after the two refused to turn the files over. Department policy forbids turning over the files before an arrest is made, but Brown served Cea and Carlson with subpoenas for them at their homes anyway.

While the NYPD mostly dismissed Brown's predecessor, John Santucci, as a "lightweight," in the words of one top detective, officials regard the diminutive ex-judge as anything but that. Brown was the only DA to complain publicly about Bratton's abrupt dismissal of anticorruption Deputy Commissioner Walter Mack. Even Abruzzi concedes Brown runs "a top-notch shop."

At the same time, detectives are bemused by Brown turning up at precinct news conferences called to announce arrests, even though the district attorney's office played no part in many of them. On more than one occasion, detectives note, Brown has rushed in from his Connecticut weekend home on Candlewood Lake.

Chief of Detectives Charles Reuther insisted Abruzzi's transfer was unrelated to his difficulties with Brown and was due to the retirement of Brooklyn's detective chief, Kenny Gussman.

Said Brown, "I have a frank and open relationship with this department. I will not suggest to you I have any influence or would interfere in their internal personnel decisions."

Faking it. Now that Chief of Personnel Michael Markman has stopped giving cops 24 hours' notice before random drug tests, new ruses have turned up to beat them. Last month a cop was caught providing a phony urine sample through a rubber dildo.

In the past, department officials say they have seen cops try to fool the testers by using Visine, shampoo, even airline-size liquor bottles filled with "clean" urine. The cops hid the bottles inside their Printable versionclothing, connecting them to tubes through which they passed the false specimens into the cup.

In the most recent case, testers were standing behind an angled mirror to prevent just such abuses. They became suspicious after the cop couldn't get the rubber object to stop secreting fluid. Finally the testers saw the officer reach for a cork to stop the flow.

Every officer in the past caught faking drug samples has been terminated. This one will be fired next month, says a top chief.

More on merger. To anyone attending the swearing-in of Kenneth Donohue as the first chief of the NYPD's new transit bureau, it would appear as though Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Police Commissioner William Bratton actually like each other again.

Bratton, who has taken to mentioning Giuliani's name in virtually every sentence he speaks these days, said of the mayor and the merger: "The mayor had a dream. When he sets his sight on a target, he hits that target." Giuliani, in turn, credited Bratton with a "truly historic reduction of crime" when Bratton headed the transit police five years ago.

As for Donohue, Bratton said he was "an easy sell to the mayor." Whether the same will be true for the housing police's four-star chief, John Leake, remains to be seen. Leake mumbled through a City Hall news conference announcing the merger last week, unable to provide any information about the 16 percent increase in housing crime or why, contrary to trends throughout the city, this is the case.

The future may hold more such unpleasant moments for Leake. When the merger occurs, not only will he lose a star (though his salary will remain the same), but he will have to attend the NYPD's weekly crime strategies sessions at which chiefs are forced to articulate what their crime problems are how they plan to deal with them.

Slugger Jack. That punching bag Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple has installed in his 9th-floor office beside his espresso machine is apparently doing him some good. Using gloves said to be from the police headquarters gymnasium, he's lost some girth around his gut.

Maple has even taken to shadow boxing around One Police Plaza, landing some supposedly friendly shots to the mid-sections of at least two civilians. Former colleagues in the transit police, where Maple worked as a lieutenant before Bratton appointed him deputy commissioner for crime control, recall Maple fought in numerous boxing tournaments. No one recalls him winning any bouts. As Maple put it, "Just say I had a perfect record."

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© 1995 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.