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On the lookout for a top cop

March 1, 2001

Plenty of commissioner talent was in evidence at Tuesday night's annual Police Foundation dinner.

It's not unusual for former top New York cops to show up at the shindig at One Police Plaza.

But what stood out about the array this year was that the brass of the past -and the present -are also seen as possible commissioners of the future.

With less than a year remaining in maximum leader Rudolph Giuliani's term as mayor, let's handicap the chances of who among the dinner guests will be king of the cops in the next administration.

Current Commissioner Bernie Kerik's successes -including four arrests he has made himself -have earned him the sobriquet "the beat-cop commissioner." He's also a long-shot candidate to keep his job. It's a real long-shot, though. Every mayor wants to select his own commissioner.

Kerik's first deputy, Joe Dunne, was passed over for commissioner by Giuliani despite credentials that surpassed his boss'. Unlike Kerik, Dunne has a college degree. Unlike Kerik, he rose through the ranks without serving as Giuliani's chauffeur. Unlike Kerik, he lacks political connections.

Ray Kelly, commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins, served as undersecretary of the Treasury and commissioner of the Customs Service in the Clinton administration before joining the Wall Street firm of Bear Stearns. But those who know him say he'd return to the NYPD in a heartbeat.

Bill Bratton, a consultant at Kroll Associates who has cast his lot with Democratic mayoral candidate Mark Green, attended with Richard Aborn, Green's law-enforcement adviser. Beside Bratton was his wife,Court TV commentator Rickie Kleiman, showing signs of the back problems for which Bratton is suing, claiming loss of consortium. He's apparently learned something from his successor, Howard Safir, who made the same claim in a civil suit after his wife was in a car accident.

Bratton's onetime first deputy, John Timoney, passed over, like Dunne, for police commissioner by the mayor, is Philadelphia's top cop. He sat with former deputy commissioners Jack Maple and John Miller, a table away from Bratton. But there appears to be a greater distance between them these days. Timoney is said to be close to Green's rival, Democratic Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

While Timoney hob-nobbed in New York, a political nightmare was erupting in Philly, where crowds were rioting in a Mardi Gras celebration. Timoney says he got word while returning home on the Jersey Turnpike.

NYPD Blues.
Actor Dennis Franz plays street-smart detective Andy Sipowicz on TV's "NYPD Blue," but he stumbled when he played emcee and faced real-life cops at the foundation dinner.

First he mispronounced Giuliani's name, calling him "Giuliana." Then he referred to Officer Andy DeStefano, shot in the chest while on patrol, as having been shot while "on parole."

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© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.