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Cops' Wild Romp: Seen It, Been There

May 22, 1995

Here's some advice for Commissioner William Bratton on the NYPD's night of debauchery in Washington, D.C., from a veteran police corruption investigator.

The trip to D.C., sponsored by a police fraternal organization to commemorate officers killed in the line of duty, led instead to the city cops' drunken beer bash, hotel vandalism and harassment of guests. It also exposed the NYPD's dirty little secret: Incidents like this have gone on, unreported to the public, for years.

The investigator, who in 40 years on the job led corruption and brutality investigations into incidents such as these, is retired and asked that his name not appear.

"First," he said, "you can't prevent this kind of thing. Anytime you get 10 cops and a bottle of whiskey you're going to get these problems. I used to dread St. Patrick's Day. I used to dread cop funerals. But this isn't a preventable thing. You can't prevent union behavior. It's what you do afterward that counts.

"What I'd do is go down there and treat this like any other crime. You could do 20 things, but the first thing is get outside witnesses.

"I'd provide them with photographs of the cops there. Then I'd pay all their expenses. I'd give them $ 200-a-day food allowances. I'd give them everything they want. Money means nothing.

"If they find a bullet in the wall, as has been rumored, I'd confiscate the weapons of the cops who were there and compare them until they come up with a match.

"Then I'd lean on the probies [probationary cops who were part of the 300 to 400 cops at the outing]. With probies you've got an edge because you can fire them without trial.

"Lastly, I'd ask myself whether these actions were considered aberrational here. If so, I'd ask who was allowing it."

Chiefs and big money. When their contract kicks in in September, an embarrassing anomaly in city government will become apparent: Deputy chiefs and inspectors could make more money than their bosses, including the police commissioner.

The way the city government works, the police commissioner, first deputy, chief of department, four superchiefs and 11 assistant (or two-star) chiefs are considered management and like all top city officials are under the City Management Plan. This means the mayor sets their salaries.

The PC earns $ 110,000; the first deputy, $ 109,000; assistant chiefs, $ 106,000. It also means they haven't had a raise since 1992 and aren't expected to until at least 1997.

Deputy chiefs, who in the NYPD rank below assistant chiefs, are part of a bargaining unit with inspectors and captains that negotiates a separate city contract. Printable versionThe most recent contract gave them a 2 percent raise in April, 1994, another 2 percent last month and a 3 percent jump in September.

That brings a deputy chief's base pay to $ 97,000, but also leaves room for four add-ons: night differential, which is 10 percent of one's hourly wage after 4 p.m. and can total a few thousand dollars annually; a uniform allowance of $ 900; 11 holidays; and longevity, figured as an extra $ 1,000 for every five years on the job. Someone with 25 years will get an extra $ 5,000.

Mayoral spokeswoman Colleen Roche acknowleges the situation. "It's an anomaly of city government due to union negotiations, and in an effort to be fiscally responsible, top management's wages" will be frozen until 1997, she said.

The problem is, say analysts, the longer the differential continues, the larger it grows and the more expensive it becomes to correct.

The hidden office. The Police Department's office of community affairs supposedly interacts with the public. But the department's deputy commissioner for public information declined last week to explain what units it possesses, how many cops are assigned to each or what they do.

Interest in community affairs surfaced after Mayor Rudolph Giuliani purged the public information office, known as DCPI, earlier this year. Giuliani said the purge was an attempt to move cops from One Police Plaza to the streets. Cops were also moved from the police commissioner's office and that of the first deputy. But no one moved from community affairs.

After a request from New York Newsday, department spokesman Tom Kelly compiled figures from the department of personnel on exactly what units community affairs has and what each does. He then declined to release them, citing "orders from the 14th floor." That's where Commissioner Bratton and his staff have their offices.

So here's a partial summary of community affairs, whose deputy commissioner, Walter Alicea, provided crucial Hispanic support in Giuliani's 1993 election. Out of the office part of last week, Alicea could not be reached for comment. Under him are an assistant commissioner, a commanding captain and a community affairs division with its captain.

There's also a victim and volunteer services section, with units including civilian participation, crime victims, precinct receptionist, model block program and new immigrants. Finally, there's a youth serices division, with Police Athletic League, runaway and police youth dialogue units.

In all, there are three captains, nine lieutenants, 16 sergeants, 130 cops and 97 civilians. But it is unknown what any of them does.

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© 1995 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.