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Ferrer ponders a top-cop pick

April 23, 2001

Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, who some consider the farthest out there of all mayoral candidates, says that if he's elected, "odds are" he will appoint his police commissioner from the current top ranks of the department.

Ferrer is running second in the polls behind Mark Green, who has been prominently endorsed by former commissioner Bill Bratton. People close to both Green and Bratton say Green has made no promises to him.

Ferrer named as possibilities for his commissioner: First Deputy Commissioner Joe Dunne, Chief of Department Joe Esposito, Chief of Patrol William Morange, Bronx Borough Commander Patrick Timlin and even current police commissioner Bernard Kerik.

"What captured my attention about him [Kerik] was that he understood the problem he was inheriting," said Ferrer, in the first of a series of interviews by one Police Plaza with the mayoral candidates on police issues. "He took bold steps to address them, reaching out to churches and community groups. Something I did not expect was his top command, putting very credible people in there."

Kerik, however, had better not hold his breath waiting to hear from Ferrer. As Ferrer put it, "Every mayor wants his own commissioner."

Ferrer's remarks were met with skepticism by at least one top police commander, who said of Ferrer: "He's full of it. He is happy because things are going well in the Bronx." He pointed out that Ferrer has not even met at least one of the people he named.

Ferrer's position is also different from that of four years ago when he ran briefly for mayor. Before dropping out, he named former first deputy and current Philadelphia police commissioner John Timoney as his choice for commissioner.

"Then was then and now is now," Ferrer said, adding he favored "people who understand the department and the city as it is today." Ferrer could offer no credible knock on Timoney, on or off the record, other than that he served under Bratton.

Ferrer says Bratton "sabotaged the Civilian Complaint Review Board and ended community policing," which Bratton termed "social work." Bratton's explanation: He was forced into those positions by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

"I was one of the leading advocates of community policing," said Bratton, responding by telephone from Venezuela, where he said he'd just held a news conference with the mayor of Caracas on reducing crime. "My frustration in New York was Rudy. He tied my hands."

Ferrer's anti-Bratton sentiments are epitomized by the December 1994 death of Anthony Baez after he was placed in a chokehold by ex-officer Francis Livoti. What galled Ferrer was that in March 1995, Bratton's Chief of Department, Louis Anemone, praised Livoti at a public meeting in the Bronx County Courthouse that Ferrer hosted.

"Anemone goes into an elegy of Livoti as a model cop-this, from the Chief of Department. I was stunned. Knowing of his 11 prior civilian complaints, the only question I had was how does a guy with 11 priors walk the street with a badge and gun," Ferrer said.

Referring to the impending departmental trial for perjury of two officers who alibied for Livoti, Ferrer says, "I want to give the department credit for dealing with it."

He adds that State Supreme Court Judge Gerald Sheindlin, who acquitted Livoti in Baez's death, cited the testimony of the two officers, Mario Erotokritou and Anthony Farnan, as being part of a "nest of perjury."

Like virtually all New Yorkers, Ferrer said he was unaware that Sheindlin later acknowledged he was referring not to Erotokritou and Farnan but to Daisy Boria, the only officer who testified against Livoti.

But that's another story.

The Cyclist.
This is what happens when your credentials surpass those of the man who becomes police commissioner and you become first deputy.

Well, First Deputy Joe Dunne has just been named the department's representative on a cross-country bicycle ride for the Autism Society of America Foundation. Friday, he will set off with a Toronto cop, John Keating, for San Diego to raise money for autism research.

Fortunately, Dunne will only have to accompany Keating from Rockefeller Center to the ferry that takes them to New Jersey.

Water Boy No More.
Kerik apparently read enough One Police Plaza columns to appreciate that Howard Safir's police museum, with two dozen officers assigned there round the clock, was an embarrassment to himself and the department.

In dumping half of them, including its "executive director," Sgt. Tom Gambino, Kerik has proved he is no longer Rudolph Giuliani's water boy-even though he has allowed Gambino to keep the "special assignment" money, giving him the equivalent of lieutenant's pay, which Safir awarded Gambino before retiring.

Now let's see how Kerik handles Safir's nine-man detective detail who serve as coat holders but whom the mayor tells us Safir needs because of "threats on his life."

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© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.