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Big cracks in blue wall

January 22, 1996

Anyone who doesn't see a problem between Chief of Department Louie Anemone and Chief of Detectives Charles Reuther had better run to an ophthalmologist. Or read Anemone's Jan. 8 memo to Reuther, titled "Plans and Expectations for 1996."

"Be prepared prior to each 'Comstat' meeting to become an active, interested participant at the meeting," Anemone begins condescendingly and never wavers from that tone.

"Implement and support all policies and decisions as directed . . .

"Respond to major crime scenes (including those involving members of your bureau) on a seven day, 24 hour basis.

"Insure that prisoners are debriefed, accomplices arrested and search warrants and sting operations are increased.

"Create a plan to disband the Career Criminal Investigation Unit.

"Develop progress reports on all unsolved homicide cases and cases where perpetrators are known but not yet apprehended."

Rumblings between Reuther and Anemone surfaced last year at a Comstat meeting - the ballyhooed crime-strategy sessions where Anemone and Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple tear into precinct, squad and borough commanders, and certain three-star chiefs like Reuther. When Reuther protested, Maple called him a 'traitor." Anemone chimed in with "heresy."

Earlier this month, Anemone vilified the detective bureau after Police Officer Raymond Rodriguez claimed 47th Squad detectives ignored Michael Vernon's July murder confession, which, if believed, might have prevented his shooting to death five people in a Bronx shoe store in December. Anemone had to eat crow when Rodriguez recanted.

Last week, a "cold case squad" of detectives was assembled to solve unsolved homicides. The unit is to be taken from the detective division and assigned directly to Anemone, led by Maple protege Ed Norris.

First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney tried to paint the best face on said. "You shouldn't be tied down to any particular way of doing business. You should be able to cross bureau boundaries with no fear that people are being territorial. People should be allowed to think and talk publicly without fear of being criticized and despised."

That's just what's occurred. Another item in Anemone's memo calls for 20 detectives and supervisors to be redeployed to the Chief of Department's Oversight Squad. "This means a personal squad for Anemone," says another top chief. "He's forcing detectives to spy on other detectives."

Anemone wasn't talking last week. Reuther professed himself unfazed. "I've had a long successful career," he said. "I intend to continue it."

Printable versionDysfunctional family. The so-called family dispute among Hispanic Society police officers has led to charges of "eavesdropping" against its most disaffected member, Rafael Collazo.

The charges against Collazo, a former board member, follow the discovery of a tape recorder he's accused of planting last July 26 at the Society's meeting at the Puerto Rican Commonwealth building on Park Avenue. They come after a blizzard of complaints to the Internal Affairs Bureau from Society President Wanda Burgos, who's accused him of such transgressions as releasing society members' home addresses and phone numbers, leading to unsolicited mailings and telephone calls from reporters. Collazo, meanwhile, accuses Burgos of refusing to release society financial records.

Nobody paid much attention until Collazo and other dissidents crashed a society meeting last fall, leading to a mini-brawl. Meanwhile, IAB Chief Patrick Kelleher referred the eavesdropping charge, an E-felony, to the Manhattan District Attorney's Official Corruption unit. But, reads a memo from IAB Deputy Inspector John Moakley, "ADA [William] Burmeister stated that the D.A. was not interested in proceeding criminally and recommended the department proceed administratively."

Third-rate town. Now that New York City has placed third in Time magazine's homicide-reduction sweepstakes, perhaps the NYPD can learn from the best - Seattle, Wash. Seattle homicides dropped 32 percent in 1995, compared with New York City's 25 percent decline.

"In all honesty," says Seattle's police spokeswoman, Officer Christie-Lynn Bonner, "we don't know why. It's too soon to tell whether it's a trend or a fluke."

Such modesty has eluded our Police Commissioner William Bratton, whose mug turned up on Time's cover, with the inexplicable caption, "A leading advocate of community policing."

Community policing, scorned by hardliners as "soft" policing, was the first concept he and his media consultant John Linder scrapped when Bratton became commissioner. Some say his idea of community policing is arresting much of the community.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.