Leafing through Maple’s musings
October 18, 1999
Jack Maple, the transit police's ugly duckling who under former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was turned into a swan, came out last week as an author.
His book, "The Crime Fighter," is a personal primer on how he, Bratton, then-First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney and Chief of Department Louis Anemone made the NYPD into a crime-fighting machine. To Maple, Bratton is General Marshall; Timoney, Eisenhower; and Anemone, Patton. (Well, nobody ever said these guys lacked self-importance.) In his 14-point Maple Manifesto, the former deputy commissioner for operations dismisses such bromides as community policing or the "broken windows" theory of Bratton's academic sycophant George Kelling, which holds that if cops focus on minor crimes, major crimes will dissipate. Maple says that if cops focus on minor crimes, major crimes will skyrocket.
Rather, Maple's method is aggressive policing with "relentless follow-through." Translation: Arrest the bad guys for minor crimes, then pressure them into giving up information about major ones.
He is disdainful of the NYPD's vaunted detectives, 90 percent of whom he says are lazy, burned-out cases, whose refusal to share information with patrol and narcotics units diminishes effective policing.
He also says that to ensure public confidence(Are you listening, Commissioner Howard Safir?)a police department "must be a transparent organization" and that "the press and public must be welcome." Maple's views on the Amadou Diallo shooting may prompt prosecutors in the Bronx district attorney's office-if they have brains-to call him as an expert witness at the trial of the four Street Crime Unit cops accused of shooting at Diallo 41 times in February.
Maple cites the unit's lack of proper training and supervision, including the instruction that the first thing an officer does when shots are fired is not to return fire but to take cover. "If they had been trained to seek cover first when they believed they were being fired upon, the bullet count never could have reached 41," he writes.
And he redefines the station-house maxim that the first job of any police officer is make sure he gets home safely to read: "The first job of any police officer is to make sure everybody gets home safely." He also cites the contributions of Sgt. John Yohe in establishing the now-famed COMPSTAT computer statistics program that Maple developed and for which Safir is forever taking credit.
Yohe was present at One Police Plaza last year when Vice President Al Gore attempted to honor the department for the program's success. Anyone who thinks for a speck that either Safir or Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has any use for the NYPD and the men and women who work there-save for abetting the mayor's ambitions-should recall that meeting, in which Giuliani rearranged the seating chart to upstage Gore, then refused to allow the department to accept the award. (His spokeswoman Cristyne Lategano called it "a political photo op.")
When Yohe made the mistake of amplifying a remark about COMPSTAT that Safir made to Gore, Safir transferred him the next day. As Yohe recalled it to Newsday last week, "Chief Anemone called me. He said 'I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is it's a nice day outside.'" Maple's book makes no mention of Safir. Nonetheless, at Maple's request, he attended Maple's book party Wednesday at Elaine's, a classy and even courageous act in light of Giuliani's having in the past declared the restaurant off-limits to staffers because the Bratton crowd frequented it.
Safir took one look at that crowd, then left.
His voice thick with emotion, he concluded: "They police officers ask for the benefit of the doubt when acting in the line of duty, mistakes-honest mistakes-will always be made in this business ... They ask that murder indictments not be the public response to their actions." .
Today's date: Oct. 18.
Number of days with no resolution on trip's propriety by Conflicts of Interest Board and corporation counsel: 211.
© 1999 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.