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Cop gets divine intervention?

August 26, 1996

The term "Better find a rabbi" is no mere turn of phrase in the NYPD. Just ask Lt. Carlos Munroe.

Passed over twice for lieutenant - the last time in June - Munroe finally found himself a rabbi: specifically, Rabbi Bernard Freilich.

A week later he was promoted to lieutenant.

So who is Rabbi Freilich and how did he do it? A police buff and chaplain to the State Police, Freilich is the administrator of the Council of Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group of community organizations in Brooklyn's Borough Park, a Hasidic stronghold. And in the grand tradition of former Chief of Department Robert Johnston, whose relationship with Brooklyn rabbis is said to have advanced his career, Freilich is said to be close to the top brass out of Brooklyn Borough South - particularly Chief of Personnel Mike Markman and First Deputy Commissioner Tosano Simonetti.

But let Freilich tell you in his own words what he did for Munroe. "I got a lot of calls from Munroe's friends, rank and file people, that what was happening to Munroe was unfair. I'd known Munroe as a fair man. So I tried to check it out. I always look for these types of relationships, no matter what religion, or what color.

"A week before he was appointed lieutenant, I started calling around, about three or four calls, mainly to find out if there was a problem. Then I spoke to Markman's office and Simonetti's office."

Munroe, it appears, had been caught in the midst of a feud within the Criminal Justice Bureau, involving the implementation of a Brooklyn video teleconferencing program to reduce overtime from arrest to arraignment. Lt. John Danese, now retired, who headed the new teleconferencing unit, accused CJB's top brass of covering up millions of dollars of overtime losses under the old system. Danese also charged CJB bosses with retaliating against his subordinates because of his allegations.

Whether Munroe, who worked in the 81st Precinct as a night supervisor under Danese, fit into this neither Freilich nor anyone else has determined. But at 4 a.m. on March 4, 1994, he was nabbed by Lt. Timothy Pearson, of the CJB's Inspections Unit, asleep on his meal break. Pearson charged Munroe with "failing to stay alert" and reporting 15 minutes late back to work.

For this apparently minor lapse, Munroe was tried internally. In June, 1995, he was found guilty and given a three-day command discipline. This was why he'd been passed over for lieutenant.

"I don't know Pearson or why he did it," Freilich said. "I spoke to whoever I could in Police Plaza and checked out why he was not promoted. I don't go over to the police department and tell them what to do. But I gave my views on his capabilities. I gave my views to a lot of people that I know.

Printable version"Every chief who I met, who I knew, nobody said no to me. They all said, Let's look into this.' One of them was Simonetti's assistant.

"And I have to compliment the NYPD. As soon as they found something wrong, they did the right thing, without even waiting."

Kind Lou. PBA president Lou Matarazzo says he didn't invite Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to this week's PBA convention for the mayor's own good.

"I did not want the mayor embarrassed. It would be in poor taste if people booed. I wouldn't do that to him. I didn't care for him being booed last year."

Matarazzo denied calling the mayor a ---, as in "I'll never talk to that --- again," as Newsday reported Friday.

"I do speak to him. I have never said I wouldn't ever speak to him. That is out of character for me. I have a relationship I must maintain. He is the mayor. We are not buddies. But I am not closing any doors."

Norris, No Maple. When the famed Jack Maple departed the NYPD, he was succeeded, at least in name, by his deputy, Inspector Ed Norris, who was booted right up to deputy commissioner for operations, Maple's old title.

There, the similarity ends. Take Norris' apppearance at a Compstat Crime Strategy grilling two weeks ago, where he attacked with Maple-like sarcasm the Brooklyn Special Victims squad commander Lt. Laurie Unick over the size of her case load. Unick survived Norris' initial salvo, steadied and held her ground, supporting her position with these facts: that her officers were working a heavier case load with less staff.

"She was assertive, yet calm and professional and she didn't blink," said a chief who witnessed the exchange.

And where was Norris' patron, Chief of Department Louis Anemone? The department's dark prince, sat at his side, silent.

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.