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Charm school for top cops

May 6, 1996

For the past few months, some at Police Plaza have noticed something different about the NYPD's rough-and-tough top uniformed cop, Chief of Department Louie Anemone. He actually seems nicer.

Those who have seen him at public functions say he seems more polished and restrained, no longer attacking people as he'd done at staff meetings with former Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple.

Some attribute his sudden charm to the department's secret weapon: Dr. Dee Soder, a corporate consultant who describes herself as providing "Executive Assessments and Advisory Services."

Exactly what this means, nobody at One Police Plaza knows for sure, apparently not even the scrappy department spokeswoman Marilyn Mode, who, while acknowledging Soder's existence as a pro-bono department adviser, was unable to offer specifics.

From her office at Rockefeller Center, Soder, who refused to be interviewed in person or to be photographed, said, "I am ethically precluded from talking about my clients."

Her entree into the NYPD began with a letter to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in September, 1994, and included, in subsequent correspondence, the suggestion that she coach "individually and confidentially . . . the super chiefs sic on a variety of matters."

In a written spiel she distributes under the title "Daily Wisdom," she offers such nuggets as "Be Cynical - most people . . . want to get ahead and there are fewer slots as you move up." Other subjects include "The Ambitious Peer," "The Outwardly Friendly Backstabbing Peer" and "The Subversive Subordinate." Under the heading, "The Incompetent Boss," she advises: "Don't be too extroverted. They are apt to think you're a subversive subordinate."

Anemone is not the only top cop to have consulted with Dr. Soder. Besides advising "Lou," she's told people she's counseled "Bill," as in ex-Commissioner William Bratton.

As he was shown the door by Giuliani, Bratton managed to leave with nary a bad word about the mayor, and some attribute this to Soder's tutelage. "We were amazed at his performance," marveled an ex-top cop. "To have him look quintessentially professional, so cool and calm and with a smile that hid a volcano . . . He was able to hold it in better than anyone I've ever seen. I think this is the result of great advice and tutoring."

As for Anemone, the ex-top cop said: "Maybe Louie can't get rid of the leather gun belt wrapped around his shoulder, but he does seem more pleasant. There's less flying off the handle. Maybe she's turned Rambo into an officer and a gentleman."

Printable versionKatie Cans It. Katie Lapp, the mayor's criminal justice coordinator and rumored front-runner for first deputy police commissioner, is not taking the job, which police officials say was hers for the asking. Those in the NYPD who've worked with and respect her speculate that, as one put it, "She was probably afraid she'd be strangled by City Hall."

And so back up to the top of hopefuls bobs mayoral crony Bernie Kerik. Kerik is the 40-year-old ex-detective with the unorthodox history that includes serving as warden of the Passaic County, N.J., jail and as "the chief investigator for the royal family of Saudia Arabia," as his resume states. Then at age 30, he quit a $52,000 job in the Passaic County sheriff's office to become an NYPD cop at half the pay.

Kerik catapulted into mayoral favor by coordinating Giulaini's security detail during his election campaign. Giuliani then appointed him first deputy commissioner of the Department of Correction. If Kerik is selected first dep, this the choice further indicates that Giuliani, not Police Commissioner Howard Safir, whom Kerik barely knows, is calling the shots at the NYPD.

Mention of Kerik's name at Police Plaza did not exactly bring down the house. As a top official there put it, "Looks like we're getting a lot of detectives as deputy commissioners in this administration." Second-grade Det. Walter Alicea, former president of the Hispanic Society, became deputy commissioner for community affairs after the society endorsed Giuliani over David N. Dinkins.

The Jackster Vanishes. Despite promising not to accept a "Joe Blow" security job when he left the NYPD, Bill Bratton eased into his new digs on the 35th floor of the PaineWebber building last week as president of First Security Consultants, a subsididary of the armed guard outfit run by his chum, Robert Johnson.

Although Bratton brought his NYPD executive assistant Judy Laffey, his sidekick Jack Maple was nowhere in sight. Rumor has it there's not yet enough business to pay the Jackster's salary.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.