NYPD Confidential - An Inside Look at the New York Police Department
Home Page
All Columns
Contact Leonard Levitt
Search this site

Enhancing their figures?

November 23, 1998

Last month, the Police Department estimated that "well over 3 1/2 million" people attended the Yankee parade in Lower Manhattan. But where did that figure come from?

Not from Chief Allan Hoehl, the commanding officer of patrol borough Manhattan South, which covers the parade route. Usually, the department's public information office, known as DCPI, asks Hoehl for a crowd estimate. But not this time.

"I don't know where they DCPI got that figure for the Yankee parade," Hoehl said. "Not from us."

His reaction to the published figure: "No comment."

"It was a tremendous crowd," he added a moment later. "They should leave it at that."

DCPI's Lt. Stephen Biegel provided the media with the "well over 3 1/2 million" figure. Biegel refused to say where he obtained it.

Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Marilyn Mode told Newsday after the parade the figure was determined by "the depth and numbers of people on the sidewalks."

She also refused then to say where the figure came from.

A computation by a skeptical Newsday editor estimated the crowd at about a million. The Associated Press reported a similar estimate.

Police department sources say Mode made up the "well over 3 1/2 million" figure. (Three and a half mil was the figure given for the 1996 Yankee parade.) She was said to be out of the city and did not respond to this column's request for comment.

Mode's lack of accuracy is reflective of the administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is determined he be portrayed favorably in every published snippet. Like many Giuliani spokespeople, Mode has limited public-relations experience. Her resume says she has "an extensive background in the field of law enforcement," including serving as "assistant press officer and research coordinator to the national Wiretap Commission," whatever that is.

It also notes she coordinated media coverage for the U. S. Marshal Service's federal Witness Security Program. Between 1994 and 1996, she served as the spokeswoman for the city fire department.

The distrust and cynicism of police life now pervade DCPI, where cops provide information they know is untrue.

They snicker over Mode's dog, Lil, who Mode insists on bringing with her to work every day. There in DCPI's 13th-floor office, Lil roots among the trash, frightens the night cleaning woman and last week took a nip at a sergeant.

Printable versionRather than order her to leave the dog at home, Police Commissioner Howard Safir announces that its presence at One Police Plaza violates no city health code.

And the sergeant, Gerry Falcon, when asked about the bite she suffered, offers Mode's signature line for which she has become known: "I have nothing for you."

Return of the Native. No thanks to Brookyn District Attorney Joe Hynes, Borough Park's most famous fugitive was arrested in Miami on a domestic violence charge. Simon Jacobson disappeared earlier this year to Florida after Hynes office dropped fraud charges against him, supposedly for lack of evidence, although at least three witnesses were prepared to testify he'd stolen thousands of dollars from them in fraudulent checks. Surely it was coincidence that Jacobson's attorney happened to be the husband of Hynes liaison to the borough's influential orthodox Jewish community and that Hynes was then running for governor.

A warrant is in the works to return Jacobson to face "Brooklyn justice" - clearly an oxymoron.

The Runners. The following letter was sent to First Deputy Patrick Kelleher, Chief of Department Louis Anemone, Chief of Personnel Michael Markman, Chief of Internal Affairs Charles Campisi and your humble servant:

"On Oct. 17, a department examination was administered in which sergeant and lieutenant candidates were required to run a distance of one mile and a half under the FDR Drive overpass to gain a half point credit on the promotion list . . .

"All the candidates that successfully finished in the required time were directed to remain inside a barricaded area set up at the finish line. Those candidates who did not successfully complete the run were properly identified by the police academy staff and directed to go aross the street from the barricaded area . . . We observed candidates who failed the run sneak under and over the barrier . . . These candidates further embarrassed themselves and this department by identifying themselves to the police academy staff as passing candidates . . . One of these candidates was recognized as a supervisor in the Interal Affairs Bureau . . . Inspector Long, commanding officer of the Police Academy and Sgt. Vorback of the academy staff, seemingly witnessed these events."

« Back to top

Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1998 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.