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Ex-chief ‘The key is planning’

June 26, 2000

In light of the post-Puerto Rican Day incident in Central Park, here are the thoughts of former Chief of Department Louis Anemone, known to readers of this column as The Dark Prince and to many at One Police Plaza as the Police Department's foremost tactical expert.

"Every parade has its own personality," Anemone said. "The key is planning and setting the tone from the beginning. Different parades have different issues. The St. Patrick's Day Parade has the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization. The Puerto Rican Day Parade used to have a gang issue. It also has political issues.

"It comes when the weather is warmer. The sun is hotter. People are thirstier. That doesn't necessarily mean more cops. It may mean starting out earlier doing our confiscations of liquor . That's what we did at the St. Patrick's Day Parade. We turned it back into a family event."

And with the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Anemone adds, "It's generally events before the parade that set the tone for what happens." At a festival on East 116th Street the night before, police had to call in mounted units.

"Under me," says Anemone, "I'd have the parade commanders down to headquarters at my conference-the commanders of Manhattan South and North and their advisers, the Chief of Detectives and Organized Crime Control, Chief of Patrol and the Operations Division people. There'd be about 30 of us. We'd discuss communications. We'd have maps and charts and years of experience from past parades and written critiques of them. This would be within a week or two of the parade so we'd have time to change the detail requirements. The commanders were asked very hard questions. Cursory questioning can come back to hurt you.

"We'd always have a plan after the parade, when people start caravaning in cars. We kind of cleaned that up in midtown Manhattan but in the outer boroughs, we had riots with people drinking and Puerto Rican groups driving through Dominican neighborhoods. There also has to be a piece of the detail assigned to remain at the parade long after everyone leaves. I thought they had that covered this year. This wasn't a case of thousands of cops. You need only a small show of force.

"I'd also want to know, 'Is the little guy upstairs First Deputy Patrick Kelleher looking to save money on overtime?' He'd have private meetings, bypassing me. We'd put task forces on alert, which means overtime, allowing people on day and evening shifts and keep them overlapping so that there were twice as many task force cops. They'd be available to a commander in Manhattan for a quick response. I don't know if that was the case today because of the overtime issue."

Did a trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, by Police Commissioner Howard Safir and Chief of Department Joe Dunne the week before the parade contribute to the disturbances?

"Not necessarily. If they were gone, they had the prior week to review the plans. Commanders in each zone have to be held accountable. Somebody should have seen this building up. This didn't happen in a second or two. This took quite a while to unfold. Someone should have seen it, either from air or from ground level, and reported it up the chain, and said what are we going to do about it," Anemone said.

"Particularly if there is alcohol involved."

Who ultimately is responsible? Kelleher was acting police commissioner. Chief of Patrol John Scanlon was acting chief of department. " Manhattan South borough commander Al Hoehl is a three-star chief. He was in charge when I was there and was given responsibility for parades that left Manhattan South and went into Manhattan North. In the past there were problems at the border 59th Street . But Hoehl was given a third star in recognition of his hard work. He was in charge because he outranked the Manhattan North commander, Nicholas Estavillo, a two-star chief," Anemone said.

All Windup, No Delivery.
When Det. Bobby Bolson was charged in the drunken driving death of a Queens man, his attorney Marvyn (The Magnificent) Kornberg vowed to subpoena Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to testify he did not smell alcohol on Bolson's breath when Brown visited Bolson in the hospital.

Bolson was acquitted last week of manslaughter and homicide but found guilty of drunken driving and suspended from the Police Department. Kornberg-who in defending Officer Justin Volpe argued that Abner Louima's sodomization was actually prior consensual sex-never called Brown.

Boob of the Month Award.
First prize: Police spokeswoman Marilyn Mode, who asked why, if the attacks in Central Park were so serious, didn't anyone use a cell phone to call 911.

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© 2000 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.