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A word (or three) for top cop Anemone

November 5, 1996

While the mayor pooh-poohed the incident as "much ado about nothing," the head of a police committee formed to encourage respect for the public said yesterday that the dressing-down of a mayoral crony by Chief of Department Louis Anemone "sends a very chilling signal."

"I think the police commissioner has a major issue he has to tackle," said Dennis Walcott, president of the city's Urban League, who heads a departmental committee known as Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect, an initiative announced by Commissioner Howard Safir the same day that Amnesty International issued a report on what it described as the NYPD's systemic beatings and shootings of poor black and Hispanic New Yorkers.

So important has this committee become to Safir that those three words - courtesy, professionalism, respect - have become the police department's motto, imprinted on the back of its current Official Roster.

"I think any type of abuse of authority, whether by an officer on the street or by a top commander dealing with the citizenry, is inappropriate," said Walcott. "I don't care what prompts his action, he must be accountable in dealing with the public, whether he is the average cop or someone at the top who has connections.

"The reality is people cannot be treated in a disrespectful manner and if we are serious about implementing the goals of CPR, I think the community needs to see very strong signals the Police Department is serious about it."

Walcott was responding to Anemone's dressing-down of fellow CPR committee member Howard Koeppel, a Queens automobile dealer and mayoral crony and fund raiser, at the funeral of Lt. Federico Narvaez on Oct. 23. Koeppel - whom Safir named an honorary police commissioner after Koeppel donated a Pathfinder vehicle to the department - said Anemone told him, "I'll knock your -- head off."

Anemone was apparently reacting to Koeppel's having seated himself in the first row, which by custom is reserved for the mayor and top police brass. The incident was witnessed by Public Advocate Mark Green, Printable versionwho said nothing about it at the time but who described it last week, saying, "It's true that as we were solemnly exiting the church, Chief Anemone was furiously dressing down Koeppel for some apparent protocol violation."

Koeppel, who left the church in tears, said he told Safir of the incident and said Safir called it "inexcusable," promising to deal with it.

At a news conference yesterday, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called the incident, "Much ado about nothing. . . . I'll leave it to the police commissioner," he said.

Anemone, highly regarded at City Hall as a kick-butt, take-no-prisoners commander, did not return calls to his office for comment.

Safir was in the Dominican Republic, and due back in New York today. His spokeswoman, Marilyn Mode, said, "I have nothing for you on this. If he Safir has something to say, I will let you know."

Koeppel, who last week said he was so afraid of Anemone he considered filing an order of protection, said yesterday he had reconsidered. Of Giuliani, who rushed to Koeppel's car dealership last February when a Russian immigrant was shot dead there by her estranged boyfriend and with whom Koeppel traveled to Israel the following month, Koeppel said, "I have no malice toward the administration or with Howard Safir. I know he Giuliani is embarrassed. I don't want to rub his nose in it."

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© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.