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A plea to Kerik: do clean sweep

July 30, 2001

To Commissioner Bernard Kerik from Your Humble Servant: For the past year the Police Department has provided your predecessor Howard Safir with a 10-man detective detail. The reason, says Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, is that Safir's life is in danger.

You and every top police official know this is a lie.

You and every top police official know that no other police commissioner has had a detail after leaving office. You and every other top police official know that Safir uses the detail as his valets and chauffeurs.

This makes Safir not "the greatest police commissioner in the history of the city," as the mayor has called him, but the greatest schnorrer. That's Yiddish for freeloader.

Many in the department understand you have little use for Safir. Many were gratified when a couple of months ago you transferred virtually all of the two dozen officers Safir had assigned to his pet project, the police museum, of which his wife serves as president.

After you learned that Safir's hand-picked executive director of the museum, Sgt. Tom Gambino, was secretly working out of another office a few blocks from the museum, you ignored Safir's caterwauling to the mayor and did what you had to do.

Now in two weeks, your first anniversary as commissioner, you must decide whether to terminate Safir's detail or extend it for yet another six months through the end of Giuliani's term.

Perhaps you could explain to the mayor - to whom you have proved your loyalty, most recently by declaring you would not serve as police commissioner under another mayor - that keeping Safir's detail is both a blot on you and on the department.

As much as it pains Your Humble Servant to say this, your decision will determine whether you are truly the police commissioner of New York City or the mayor's water boy.

The True Pallbearers. Six years ago, the Police Department disgraced itself in Washington when officers attending a police conference drunkenly harassed and attacked hotel guests in the nation's Capitol.

Last Monday, seven members of the department's Ceremonial Unit served as pallbearers for Washington's most influential citizen - Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham.

How did this come to pass?

According to a well-placed department official, the unit had been requested by Graham's daughter, Lally Weymouth, a longtime citizen of New York City, who had witnessed their presence at another funeral, albeit one in the city.

The weekend before her mother's funeral, a member of the unit was dispatched to Washington and met with Weymouth at the family's Georgetown manse. Weymouth informed him she had selected the following as hermother's official pallbearers: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, financier Warren Buffett, media mogul Barry Diller, former secretary of defense Robert McNamara and designer Oscar de la Renta.

Other than Gates, these distinguished gentlemen were all in their 60s or 70s. It had never occurred to anyone they might not be able to lift the casket.

When the officer apprised Kerik of this, Kerik told him to do what was necessary. Early last Monday, six other members of the Ceremonial Unit donned black suits and black ties and drove to Washington's National Cathedral, where the Episcopalian funeral was to occur.

While the official pallbearers walked ahead in the procession, the seven police officers lifted the casket to their shoulders and carried it into the cathedral and afterward across the street to the private cemetery for burial.

Sour Steve.
Charles Schwarz's first attorney, Stephen Worth, was miffed after this column reported that lawyers who appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had ridiculed his argument at Schwarz's first trial. Worth's argument: Abner Louima made up the so-called "second cop" in the bathroom of the 70th Precinct stationhouse, where then-Officer Justin Volpe sodomized him.

Well, here is what Schwarz's current lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, said in court papers about Worth and his argument. [Incidentally, Worth was the only lawyer in the case, past or present, not to show up for the appeal last week.]

"As the trial unfolded," Fischetti's brief states, "this [Worth's] theory was shown to be baseless and contrary to the evidence. No evidence - testimonial, documentary, forensic or otherwise - supported any theory that there was only one officer in the bathroom."

"In summation, Worth abandoned as the rationale for Louima's asserted fabrication of a second officer in the bathroom and that Louima ... had done so to get the case more attention.

"Switching gears, Worth now told the jury that Louima had made up the second officer to preserve his 'manhood' and 'dignity,' an argument which the government properly characterized as a 'ludicrous' and 'insulting' theory.

"And the district court later said of the argument that 'such a fanciful suggestion based on no evidence whatsoever, might appeal to the imagination of some novelist, but it has no pertinence in this case.'"

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© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.