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Bratton shuffle gets under way

February 26, 1996

Assistant Chief Benny Foster, the borough commander of Brooklyn North, was transfered last week to the office of Chief of Patrol. No announcement was made, and no matter how the department attempts to spin it, the move is a demotion, or in high-level department vernacular, "a lateral transfer with a dip."

The move is the first of a series of rumored transfers by Police Commissioner William Bratton. Chiefs of the three key bureaus - Detectives, Organized Crime Control and Patrol, whose roles would be diminished if the project continues - have another term for it: a power grab by Chief of Department Louis Anemone and Bratton's buddy, Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple.

Foster's replacement, Deputy Chief Joe Dunne, reports directly to Anemone. Dunne is expected to be promoted shortly so that the Chief of Brooklyn detectives, the Chief of Brooklyn North narcotics (which is under OCCB), and all Brooklyn North precinct commanders report directly to Dunne.

But one important person has not signed off on the program: Bratton's boss, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Their combustible relationship again appears ready to ignite. Recently, the mayor vetoed, at least temporarily, a number of other top borough commander transfers scheduled to follow Foster's as early as this week.

"According to the city charter, the mayor is in charge of the police department," said mayoral spokeswoman Colleen Roche.

Despite the veto, a top department official said yesterday the moves are still planned for this week.

Stay tuned.

The ears. Det. Patrick Brosnan and his partner last year staked out a Bronx apartment where three suspected thieves turned up. The officers fired 28 shots, killing two.

Last week Brosnan reaped a benefit of that shooting: a tax-free line-of-duty disability pension. Or in Brosnan's words to the department's Medical Board, "I was in a shoot out [sic] in a small enclosed room where 28 rounds were fired. Since then I suffer from significant hearing loss in both ears."

Since 1993, when New York Newsday questioned the legitimacy of the line-of-duty disability pension awarded former Chief of Department Robert Johnston, who claimed he suffered hearing loss from fireworks at a Rolling Stones concert he supervised, the pension board has been skeptical of all hearing loss claims. Johnston had not undergone previous hearing testing and the three officers with him at the concert continued working, their hearing apparently undiminished.

 

Brosnan, however, who also served as Mayor Giuliani's bodyguard during his 1993 election campaign, sailed right through the pension board. An outside consultant, Dr. Noel Cohen, professor and chairman of otolarynology Printable versionat New York University Medical Center, examined Brosnan last December and concluded Brosnan's hearing loss was legit and stemmed from the shootout.

"The hearing loss is permanent and disabling, although [he] is currently wearing two hearing aid[s]," Cohen wrote.

And unlike Johnston, who was 62-years-old at the time of the concert and whose hearing loss may have been more attributable to his age than to the fireworks, Brosnan is a young man: He turned 36 yesterday.

On the other hand, Brosnan's partner, James Crowe, still works in the 49th detective squad. So far as anyone knows, the surviving shootout suspect hasn't mentioned anything about hearing loss.

Samaritan Jack. Apparently Deputy Commissioner Maple suffered no lingering ill-effects from wandering, face first, into somebody's fist Friday night.

With his espresso machine next to a punching bag in his office, Maple has cultivated an image as a graceful tough guy. Yet despite his alleged street smarts, he mistook a family dispute for a robbery and intervened, resulting in his receiving an oyster in the keister. The incident occurred just outside one of his favorite haunts, Elaine's restaurant.

Attempts to reach the Dapper One at his Central Park South digs were unsuccessful as he either wasn't answering his phone or was out and about all weekend.

Still searching. He may have made the cover of Time magazine but "the most significant law enforcement leader of our time and perhaps the 20th Century," as his lawyer/agent referred to Commissioner Bratton, still hasn't found find a ghostwriter for his $300,000 autobiography.

So far he's been turned down by Daily News columnist Mike Daly, who couldn't figure out how to legitimately write his column while participating in a financial deal with the commissioner; by Eric Pooley, who after having written Time's cover story on Bratton is heading to Washington to cover the White House; and by James Lardner, whose New Yorker article a year ago praised Bratton so lavishly Bratton was nearly fired.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.