Rudy's stamp of approval
August 13, 2001
In death, as in life, the word that might best describe Jack Maple and those in his orbit is "re-invention." Or as historians might say, "revisionism."
Here was Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, commander and chief of his once dysfunctional police family, sitting in the first pew of St. Patrick's Cathedral for Maple's funeral Thursday.
Behind him sat former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who had discovered Maple and whom Giuliani fired. Next to him sat former First Deputy John Timoney, now police commissioner of Philadelphia, whom the mayor tried to demote.
In the third row sat former Chief of Department Louis Anemone, who, with Maple, served as grand inquisitor at the now famed COMPSTAT crime-fighting strategy sessions Maple is credited with inventing.
When Anemone, once a mayoral favorite, quit the department, Giuliani skipped his retirement party to attend a Mets game.
Let us now return to yesteryear - specifically, January 1994 - when Bratton, having discovered Maple as a mad-genius lieutenant within the transit police, brought Jackie Boy to One Police Plaza after being appointed police commissioner.
Bratton, with Anemone, Timoney and department spokesman John Miller, created a Camelot on the Hudson that stretched from One Police Plaza all the way to Elaine's restaurant on the Upper East Side.
Alas, it lasted but a year. First to go was Miller. After an article in the New Yorker praised Bratton as the architect of the city's crime reduction without crediting the mayor, Denny Young (who sat in the first pew with the mayor at Maple's funeral) ordered Miller to purge his 35-officer staff. Miller quit instead.
A year later, after Bratton's mug graced Time magazine's cover with nary a mention of Giuliani, it was Bratton's turn. City Hall leaked reports of freebie weekends Boston Billy had taken with fat-cat friends like Wall Street tycoon Henry Kravis. Bratton resigned, with no explanation from either him or the mayor.
When the mayor passed over Timoney and announced Bratton would be succeeded by Howard Safir, Timoney called Safir "a lightweight" and retired. Giuliani tried to bust him to captain with a resulting $20,000-a-year loss of his pension. Only a threat from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, conveyed through Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, caused Giuliani to back off.
Maple was allowed to remain, but Safir made clear it would not be in the role Maple had envisioned as first deputy. Instead, Safir selected Tosano Simonetti. As a Brooklyn borough commander, he had been humiliated by Maple and Anemone at COMPSTAT. While Simonetti defended his crime strategies, Louie flashed a picture of Pinocchio on the screen behind him.
Meanwhile, City Hall sought to disparage Bratton's role in reducing crime. Safir described him to the New York Times as "an airport cop from Boston," while saying he himself had pursued the notorious Asian drug lord, the Khun Sa.
Bratton noted the Khun Sa was still at large and termed Safir "The Rodney Dangerfield of Law Enforcement."
When the mayor held a public COMPSTAT meeting at the Marriott Marquis for out of town police departments, Bratton was banned.
When the Ford Foundation awarded COMPSTAT an "Innovations in Government" grant, Safir traveled to Washington to claim the award. During the ceremony, Maple beeped Louie, who had accompanied Safir: "Tell them who invented COMPSTAT." Having left the department, Maple began advising police departments around the country, taking on a new title - Deputy Commissioner of The World.
He wrote a book and screenplay that became the CBS television series, "The District," whose protagonist, played by Craig T. Nelson, is based on Maple.
Meanwhile, the line out of City Hall was changing. Now they were saying Maple, not Bratton, was responsible for the city's dramatic crime reductions. Safir even attended Maple's book party at Elaine's.
Unlike Bratton's other crew members, Maple had managed to remain cordial with Giuliani. He never bad-mouthed him, said Miller.
"Jack even liked him. 'C'mon, Johnnie,'" Miller recalled Maple saying to him. "'This is the Jackster you're talking to. You know you love him too.'"
When Maple was hospitalized at Sloan Kettering with the cancer that killed him, Giuliani visited him.
"It meant a lot to Jack," Miller said. "It made him feel he wasn't tarnished in the mayor's eyes because of his loyalty to Bratton."
At St. Pat's, the mayor appeared - if only for a day - to put the past behind him. Maple received a full inspector's funeral with helicopters overhead and all the trimmings. The mayor eulogized him as the city's pre-eminent crime-fighter and spoke the names Bratton, Miller and Timoney without grimacing.
Maple was anything but naive about the future.
"Come back in two weeks," he told Miller. "As soon as I'm gone, they'll all be back taking credit."
© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.