Safir’s choice a reminder?
April 20, 1998
Three-star chiefs tremble before him. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani venerates him as the man to lead the charge should the city face Armageddon.
So exalted is Chief of Department Louis Anemone, the department's highest-ranking uniformed officer, that Police Commissioner Howard Safir apparently feels it necessary to remind him who his boss is.
How else to explain the message Safir sent that Anemone is unable to select his own executive officer? How else to explain that the new "exec" assigned to him is one of only three black chiefs in the department, when Anemone is perceived as having deep-sixed two others, reassigning them to what was referred to in the NYPD as "the ghetto"?
In his two years as commissioner, Safir has used both his first deputies to counterbalance Anemone. The first, Tony Simonetti - who Anemone implied was a liar at a COMPSTAT crime strategy meeting by flashing a picture of Pinocchio on a screen behind him as he spoke - fought Anemone over the selections of precinct commanders. After Simo cashed in with a tax-free disability pension for a supposed heart ailment, Louie picked off Simo's commanders one by one.
Now Safir has his professional yes-man, current first deputy Pat Kelleher, coming at Anemone from a different direction. When Anemone's executive officer, Al Materasso, recently became chief of Bronx detectives, Safir and Kelleher set about selecting his replacement.
Significantly, they settled on the laid-back Inspector Jimmy Lawrence, who'd been shelved over at the Housing Bureau, then promoted Lawrence to deputy chief for his new assignment. Significantly because a couple of years back, Anemone demoted two other black chiefs, Benny Foster and Paul Sanderson, reassigning them to the office of Chief of Patrol under Wilbur Chapman, the department's highest-ranking black.
The wily Anemone, however, has already begun making end runs around Lawrence. Sources say he's enhanced the role of Materasso's assistant, Deputy Inspector Dick Winters, and brought back Inspector Joe Cordero, who'd been farmed out from Anemone's office to a gang intelligence unit.
The Mac. Mike McAlary's Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Abner Louima's beating and torture shows he's still this town's top police reporter. For the past decade and a half, McAlary has carried on a love-hate relationship with the NYPD (about 78 percent love).
He's broken more stories than this column can list - from his interview with Brian O'Regan of the scandal-plagued 77th Precinct shortly before O'Regan committed suicide, to his discovery of Sgt. Joe Trimboli, whose warnings about druggie cop Michael Dowd were ignored by Special State Prosecutor Joe Hynes.
In 1994, McAlary wrote that a woman who claimed to have been raped in Prospect Park had made it up. Mac took some heat over that one. Two years ago he quoted then First Deputy John Timoney calling Commissioner Safir a "lightweight," a remark that cost Timoney his job (and nearly part of his pension). Timoney never ran away from his quote or from McAlary.
Last week as McAlary and his wife, Alice, entered the Daily News newsroom to accept congratulations, she started to cry. So did many others there. A few years ago, McAlary came back from a car accident that nearly killed him. Legend has it the first person he saw when he came out of his coma was then-police commissioner Ray Kelly, standing at his bedside.
Today McAlary is again fighting for his life. He came out of a morning of chemotherapy to break the Louima story. One thing we've all learned from this is that he's no coward.
On Thursday, Ward, the NYPD's first black commissioner, sat at the head of a table, celebrating the retirement of former Housing Chief Jules Martin, who's signed on as New York University's director of security. Here are Martin's educational achievements since joining the department in 1969: bachelor's degree, criminal justice, John Jay College, 1976; master's, public administration, C.W. Post, 1979; law degree, Brooklyn Law School, 1984; member of state bar, 1985; graduate, Police Management Institute, Columbia University, 1991.
"Apparently Lil may have taken someone's lunch," sniffed Mode. "I don't know for sure."
© 1998 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.