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Bratton suddenly gets tight-lipped

June 25, 2001

So where was Mark Green's police adviser, Bill Bratton, last week when Green issued a report raking the Police Department for failing to discipline the four officers who fatally shot Amadou Diallo?

Green claimed that Mayor Rudolph Giuliani "short-circuited" the department's internal investigation, allowing the four to escape internal charges.

Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik expressed the view of many in the department, calling Green's report "a cheap shot."

"It's typical Mark Green," Kerik said of the city's public advocate and mayoral front-runner, who is considered by many in law enforcement as an unregenerate department critic.

Green's report was based on redacted police documents released to him under a bizarre arrangement making his office a middleman between the NYPD and the public. The report concluded that the Internal Affairs Bureau was still investigating the shooting when Giuliani announced on April 18 that "the police department is virtually finished with its review."

The result: The department ended its investigation, and the next week Kerik announced the four officers were cleared.

As evidence, Green produced a letter to federal officials, dated April 19, from IAB's force-complaint unit, known as Group No. 54, requesting ballistics material in what the letter stated was IAB's "continued internal investigation into the enforcement actions taken by police personnel involved in this incident."

Department officials maintain Giuliani made his April 18 remark only after conferring with Kerik, who'd conferred with IAB Chief Charles Campisi. They say the April 19 letter was merely a request for closing documents.

The merits of each position notwithstanding, perhaps the report's most significant aspect is the absence of Green's most visible police supporter, former commissioner Bratton, the man Green's campaign hopes will defuse his anti-police image and the man some speculate would become Green's police commissioner.

Rather, the report was prepared by Richard Aborn, a former Manhattan prosecutor, who described himself to Newsday as the "director of the police accountability study by the public advocate's office." Aborn said Bratton was not involved.

Why not? Could it be that Bratton disagrees with the report's conclusions? Isn't this the same Bratton who exonerated officers who fired more than 200 rounds in a Queens Boulevard shootout in 1994 in which a civilian was killed and an officer was wounded by so-called friendly fire?

Or is Green not interested in Bratton's opinion but merely using him to improve his image? Your Humble Servant called Bratton's office four times Thursday and Friday to ask why he went AWOL on Green's Diallo report. The usually forthcoming Bratton did not return the calls.

Silence Is Golden.
In September 1999, nearly a year after former commissioner Howard Safir's coat-holder Todd Ciaravino fired a loaded gun in Safir's 14th-floor offices at One Police Plaza, another newsworthy event never reported to the media occurred at Yankee Stadium.

The Police Department arrested three cleaners, who were charged with selling cocaine out of the stadium.

Just as the department never informed the media of the Ciaravino shooting, it did not inform the media of the stadium arrests, which occurred after the Yankees asked the Police Department to investigate a spate of thefts of Yankees paraphernalia. The department placed a female undercover officer inside the stadium posing as a cleaner.

An official in the department's public information office at the time said he was unaware of the stadium arrests and suggested that the office was never informed of them by department higher-ups.

"It was all hush-hush," said a law enforcement source of the police investigation. "It was near the playoffs, and the Yankees didn't want any bad news to get out even though they did the right thing and came to us."

Now we can report that two months ago, the three cleaners went on trial in the Bronx and were all acquitted. Their defense: The undercover cop made them do it by flirting with them and convincing them that if they did not sell her coke, her boyfriend would beat her up.

Wrynns' Ending.
Inspector James Wrynn retired last week after 36 years in the department. With him, a bizarre episode in police history concludes.

Wrynn's wayward son, John, also happened to be a police officer. He was accused of leaking confidential information to Bronx mobsters. His father, who worked in Internal Affairs, was accused of rifling his son's IAB file and warning him.

The situation dragged on for nearly a decade under Assistant U.S. Attorney George Stamboulidis, the same man who unsuccessfully prosecuted the Chinese-American scientist Wen Ho Lee. Stamboulidis directed the Police Department to take no action against the Wrynns while he was investigating.

Finally, in 1999, Stamboulidis gave up. The department fired John Wrynn. The inspector was allowed to remain.

Staff writer Rocco Parascandola contributed to this column.

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