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Will an insider succeed Safir?

July 31, 2000

If history is any guide, the city's next police commissioner - assuming Howard Safir departs shortly, as many believe - will be an insider.

Let's begin with Mayor John Lindsay (1965-73). His first police commissioner was an outsider, Howard R. Leary of Philadelphia; his second was Patrick Murphy, a professional reformer in Syracuse and Detroit and former New York police officer. After Leary left town in disgrace following the Knapp Commission corruption scandal and Murphy steered the Police Department through post-Knapp reform, Lindsay appointed Donald Cawley, a career cop, to complete the final year of his mayoralty.

Mayor Ed Koch (1977-89) also chose an outsider, albeit a New Yorker, as his first police commissioner-Robert McGuire, a criminal attorney. His second was Ben Ward, a department veteran and the first black police commissioner. To close out his term, Koch chose Ward's first deputy, another city police veteran, Richard Condon.

Mayor David Dinkins' (1989-93) first police commissioner was Lee Brown from Houston. When Brown left because of his wife's illness and after Dinkins appointed a corruption panel headed by Milton Mollen, Dinkins turned to Brown's first deputy, another department veteran, Ray Kelly.

Kelly, who served for a year and a half, gives two reasons why mayors turn to insiders as their terms conclude.

"First, you're not looking for a fresh agenda," Kelly said. "You want your policies maintained. Second, an insider becomes comfortable with the job more quickly. There is a tremendous learning curve from the outside."

So who will Mayor Rudolph Giuliani select to succeed Safir?

"Giuliani is suspicious of most people and will select someone from within or someone who is a personal friend," said Koch.

Who does that mean? Corrections Commissioner Bernie Kerik, a former city police officer who has close ties to Giuliani? Nicholas Scoppetta, commissioner for the Administration of Children's Services, who goes back to Giuliani's prosecutor days? Loyalist aide Dennison Young, who some believe has already been serving as unofficial first deputy, approving all promotions and transfers above the rank of captain? Chief of Department Joe Dunne, who has a following among non-white cops, has media savvy and is unafraid to speak his mind? With Giuliani, that last quality might disqualify him.

Joe the Ostrich.
On May 29 One Police Plaza Confidential reported the existence of an anonymous letter to Your Humble Servant alleging favoritism by a male prosecutor in Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes' office. When asked about the allegations, the prosecutor refused to respond. Hynes' spokesman Kevin Davitt even threatened legal action against Newsday.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, this column then requested the resumes, salaries and dates of promotions of two female assistant district attorneys named in the letter, both of whom are paid more than $100,000.

Newsday also requested records of a business trip several people in the office said two of the prosecutors mentioned in the letter made together.

Meanwhile, this column has received letters, telephone calls and e-mails from prosecutors and civilian employees in the district attorney's office, confirming the letter's allegations, naming names and specifying the dates of the out-of-state trip.

Hynes, however, has shown no inclination to pursue the allegations. On July 17, Jodi Mandel, first deputy of the Appeals Bureau, wrote to say that while her office would provide the salaries and dates of promotions of the two assistant district attorney's, it would not provide information about the trip.

"Your request is one for information, not documents," she wrote, "and the Freedom of Information law directs agencies to provide documents not information per se."

So last week One Police Plaza Confidential wrote Mandel again, requesting "any and all documentation evidencing such a trip including but not limited to expense reports, travel reimbursement forms, corporate expense bills, hotels, air fare, phones and calendars."

Unholy Alliance?
The bizarre alliance between Norman Siegel's New York Civil Liberties Union and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association-which produced Al Sharpton as a witness for former officer Joe Locurto, who was dismissed after appearing on a float that was considered racist during a 1998 Labor Day parade in Broad Channel-continues.

The two groups are now lining up behind Eric Adams, the head of a small, though media-attentive, group of black officers known as 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. Both Adams and his group were the subject of separate internal police investigations, both of which were closed with no findings of wrongdoing.

Many questions remain, not the least of which is this: What was Adams investigated for? Asked that question after meeting with Safir on the issue a couple of weeks ago, Adams was uncharacteristically silent. Yesterday, he mentioned an allegation of his associating with a convicted felon, but the normally loquacious Adams provided no details.

The Moonlighter.
PBA president Pat Lynch did some moonlighting as a real cop last week. Approaching the toll plaza of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, he did a 180-degree turn in his car and nabbed Edwin Tariera, who was being chased by two Bridge and Tunnel officers for driving an unregistered vehicle with a suspended license.

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© 2000 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.