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Sharpton's cop talk

February 5, 1996

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner William Bratton are to attend Wednesday's swearing-in of the newly-elected president of the Guardians Association of black police officers at John Jay College.

But don't expect to see them at John Jay's next Guardian-sponsored event Feb. 15.

That's the date of the 10th annual Lloyd Sealy lecture honoring the NYPD's pioneering black officer. This year's lecturer is the Rev. Al Sharpton, reviled by both the mayor and much of the Police Department.

Sealy, believed to be the NYPD's first black to captain a precinct, retired in 1969 as an assistant chief. Having earned a bachelor's and a law degree on the job, he then taught at John Jay for 16 years.

Vice President Mary Rothlein says the Guardians and NOBLE, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, have been "the driving force" behind the Sealy lectures. Past lecturers have included such established figures as Benjamin Ward, the department's first black commissioner; appellate Judge William Thompson; federal Judge Sterling Johnson; and the Rev. Calvin Butts of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church.

Sharpton, of course, has a long history with law enforcement. A former federal informant, as Newsday revealed in 1988, he's had roles of varying degrees in such incendiary dust-ups as the Tawana Brawley rape case, which state officials termed a hoax; the Crown Heights riot that resulted in the stabbing death of a Jewish rabbinical student; and the December Harlem fire that caused eight deaths.

Sharpton says he was invited to lecture by NOBLE's regional president, NYPD Lt. Umberto Thomas. Thomas says, "We wanted to see what the community was interested in. The students at John Jay are the young thinkers of tomorrow. We want to bring politically active people like Sharpton. Anyone who gets 20 percent of a senatorial vote is politically active." (In 1992, Sharpton won 14 percent of the Democratic senatorial primary vote.)

Former Guardian President Roger Abel said of Sharpton, "He spoke at our memorial breakfast. He is not a foreign agent as far as black officers are concerned. We support him in almost everything he does."

About the only person seeking distance from Sharpton is the man to be honored Wednesday as Guardians' president-elect, Eric Sanders. "The invitation was issued by the previous regime," he said. "I didn't know anything about it."

Bill goes corporate. If Police Commissioner Bratton doesn't get his longsought-after corporate job, it's not for lack of trying. Fresh from his Time magazine cover success, Bratton was feted last month in Palm Springs, Calif., by Printable versionBusiness Week magazine, which included him as a panelist along with presidents and chief executive officers from such companies as Arrow Electronics, Home Depot, Campbell Soups, Navistar and Union Carbide.

Bratton discussed his favortie topic (other than himself), the city's dramatic reduction in crime. Business Week paid for his plane ticket and lodging. Ticket and lodging for his NYPD "security," Gregory Longworth, was paid for by taxpayers.

Second thoughts? Mayor Giuliani might think twice about reducing the number of cops after last Wednesday's Comstat meeting. On the griddle were commanders from Queens Borough South, whose weekly crime statistics had risen 8.8 percent, including a 35-percent increase in the sweetheart 107th Precinct.

Chief of Department Louis Anemone, who with Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple serves as grand inquisitor at the meetings, tempered his sarcasms because a crew from the television show "America's Most Wanted" turned up. "Dateline" and "48 Hours" have also filmed the meetings, which are barred to reporters at One Police Plaza who have written critically of the department.

Joe's policy. Other than headlines, what did Brooklyn District Attorney Charles (Joe) Hynes accomplish by his fifth annual Super Bowl gambling raid dubbed "Operation King's Flush"?

The raid resulted in the arrests of 26 bookmakers. A study last year by Newsday's Patricia Hurtado revealed that 98 percent of Hynes' gambling arrests over the past four years were misdemeanors, punishable by less than a year in jail.

Hynes disputes these figures, pointing out that at least one mobster received a 10-year term. "I've been involved with disrupting Brooklyn gamblers since 1970," he says. "It's an effective way to prevent activities with an enormous impact on our city: $12 billion to $15 billion a year. The most effective way is to hit their gambling parlors at appropriate times."

Some in law enforcement have suggested that such raids have less to do with law enforcement than with Hynes' political ambitions. Last time around, Hynes ran unsuccessfully for attorney general. Now, he's talking about governor.

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© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.