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Kerik continues predecessor’s job

January 8, 2001

Not a drop was spilled as Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik accepted the bucket of his predecessor Howard Safir and became Rudolph Giuliani's new water boy.

Witness Kerik's clarion call for the Police Department to take over the Port Authority's policing functions at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

Kerik's announcement followed the failure of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to send a representative to the mayor's Office of Emergency Management meeting the day of last month's snowstorm, which prevented Giuliani from acting as the undisputed Snowstorm Emperor of the bi-state region.

After being notified of its lapse, the Port Authority further angered the mayor when it dispatched a lowly sergeant to the emergency management meeting.

Last week, Kerik justified a department takeover of the airports by citing an increase in cargo and luggage thefts at Kennedy over the past year from 690 to 790 and an increase in car thefts from 44 to 87. After the Port Authority disputed those figures, Giuliani announced with no trace of irony given his record on the subject-such his refusal to allow state Comptroller Carl McCall to audit the NYPD's crime stats or blocking Public Advocate Mark Green's access to police disciplinary files-"They have to start giving open, honest information to the public."

Kerik might better spend his efforts becoming acquainted with his own department. Perhaps he might provide open, honest information about the department's newly established Patrol Services Bureau of Nepotism. Perhaps he can explain Personnel Order 382, issued Dec. 22, which transferred Officer Austin W. Morange to the bureau, where he serves as the driver for Chief William Morange, who happens to be his father.

While William Morange is regarded as a first-rate commander and first- class individual, people can only wonder what he was drinking when he ordered the transfer, a move that cannot be justified under any circumstances, beginning with the message it sends.

As a former deputy commissioner put it, "This is bad, bad, bad." And people can only wonder what his superiors-Chief of Department Joe Esposito, First Deputy Joe Dunne and Kerik himself-were drinking when they acquiesced. According to Kerik's Tom Antenen, Kerik has "no problem" with Officer Morange working for Pops.

Of course, nepotism appears to be the mother's milk of this administration. Witness Liberal Party boss Big Ray Harding's two sons riding high on the city payroll, or the more recent appointment of 31-year-old Geoffrey Hess, son of the Corporation Counsel, serving as the mayor's $150,000 senior advisor.

Perhaps Kerik will also provide open, honest information about the Dec. 30 transfer of Deputy Inspector Thomas King from the 44th Precinct in the Bronx, which appears to represent a new low in the department's misuse of precinct crime figures.

Kerik said he transferred King because "his numbers were up." Yet on Nov. 22, Kerik had promoted King from captain to deputy inspector.

Question One: If King did such a poor job, why did Kerik promote him just five weeks earlier? Question Two: Can a monthly change in precinct crime figures justify a commanding officer's transfer? If so, Your Humble Servant suggests that before Kerik obtains his college diploma, he consider taking a course in statistics.

Dunne But Not Gone.
First Deputy Commissioner Joe Dunne may not have been exaggerating when he said he would serve as dogcatcher if he could remain a cop. Dunne made that statement after the mayor informed him he had been passed over as police commissioner but could remain first deputy.

Contrary to speculation running rampant at One Police Plaza, Dunne said last week he is not leaving to take a job with American Express, whose director of security is, according to American Express spokeswoman Molly Faust, "seeking to retire."

Nor, said Dunne, is he leaving for a job anywhere else.

"I am not going to American Express. I have never given my resume to anyone. I've never interviewed anywhere else for a job," Dunne said last week.

Alas, top retired department officials told Newsday that if Dunne isn't interviewing for an outside job, he should be.

"They American Express are looking," said an ex-chief. "It's a big job for a quality company, and Dunne is a perfect candidate. He owes it to himself and his family to look. The job won't be there 11 months from now. If he hasn't interviewed, he should rethink it."

Do the Right Thing. Patrolmen's Benevolent Association trustee Walter Liddy has told Internal Affairs he was so upset after rear-ending a jeep that he drove off, leaving his license and registration with the two responding officers, a police source told Newsday.

Other sources say what actually happened was that after the accident, Liddy shouted at the two responding officers, "Do you know who I am?" He then left the scene, forgetting he had given them his license and registration.

The two officers face disciplinary charges for failing to call a superior officer, as is required when a cop is in an off-duty accident.

Liddy is in the clear.

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© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.