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It's all about who you know

November 26, 2001

It's payoff time at One Police Plaza.

Let's check out some of last week's promotions, which provide not only higher positions and salaries, but a potential increase in pensions.

Begin with John Odermatt, double-bumped from inspector to assistant chief, skipping the rank of deputy chief. Odermatt's current job is first deputy commissioner for the Office of Emergency Management, propping up the commissioner, Richie Sheirer.

Sheirer, who mustered with the brass before the ceremony, served as a factotum for former Police Commissioner Howard Safir at both the fire and police departments, where he was a dispatcher and deputy chief of administration, respectively. When Safir left the Police Department last year, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani appointed Sheirer commissioner of OEM.

Since the World Trade Center attack, Sheirer has appeared at the mayor's side as a daily television prop in the background as Giuliani holds forth.

Next, there's Stephen Kennedy, promoted from inspector to deputy chief. Kennedy's current job is commanding officer of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, where he was assigned to instill harmony after its former head, Sandra Marsh, quit with a $1 million settlement in federal court against Safir and the department.

Reason for the settlement: Safir had ordered Marsh to rewrite her report on a Staten Island sexual scandal in which she had accused the borough commander and his deputy of lying - both fireable offenses. Kennedy did his job well. No charges were brought against either of them.

Now let's look at Vinnie DeMarino, the former transit cop promoted from deputy inspector to inspector. In 1998, the mayor and Safir claimed to have discovered a "systemic flaw" that had led to the under-reporting of subway crime.

Attention focused on Transit District No. 1 at Columbus Circle, then headed by DeMarino, a favorite of Transit Chief Ken "The Duke" Donohue. The Duke retired and DeMarino plead guilty to department charges and forfeited 25 vacation days ($7,500 in salary). He was transferred to the Housing Bureau under the sheltering arms of its commander, Joseph Dunne. Dunne is now, of course, first deputy commissioner.

Then there's Charles Dowd, promoted from captain to deputy inspector.

Nearly two years ago, Dowd was accused by police officials of under-reporting crime in the 88th Precinct in Brooklyn. His boss, Joe Esposito, described this as merely "sloppy record-keeping." Unlike Luis Vega, fired from the 41st Precinct in the Bronx for a similar offense, Dowd was transferred to the 106th Precinct in Queens. Esposito is now, of course, chief of department.

Finally, let's examine the transfer of Assistant Chief Tom Fahey, commanding officer of the department's public information office to the chief of Manhattan detectives. Fahey has had nearly as many lives as a cat in the publicinformation office, where he has served three times. He was sent there two years ago to clean up the mess left by its former deputy commissioner, Marilyn Mode.

He remained when Bernard Kerik became commissioner because Fahey had been Kerik's boss in Midtown South precinct and Kerik, who never rose above the rank of third-grade detective, needed bosses around him he trusted. Chief of Manhattan detectives is, of course, a stepping stone to chief of detectives.

Some say Fahey and Kerik had angled to place Fahey in that spot a year ago but the current chief, William Allee, has proved to be a durable old bird.

Notes From Buff-Land.
Top dog in police buff-land these days seems to be Dennis Schnur, who heads something called the Federal Drug Agents Foundation.

After the World Trade Center attacks, Schnur presented the department with a $150,000 or so check for the families of slain officers. Schnur also provided gym equipment for Kerik's office.

Rival buffs say he's angling for honorary police badges for himself and his son. (Schnur already has a chief of personnel badge, courtesy of the supposedly disabled former personnel chief Mike Markman.) Buff-land sources say Schnur stated he had the clout to close down 55th Street outside the Friars Club, where his foundation held a recent dinner.

The foundation's president, Bob Silbering, a legitimate law enforcement guy in his day, says the street's closing may have been due to the arrival at the dinner of Drug Enforcement Administration head Asa Hutchinson.

Everybody loves Raymond ...
This reporter received the following letter from Jody Fisher, director of media relations of St. John's University.

"I read with anticipation "Kelly to Be Top Cop" (Newsday, Nov. 11), anxious to see Mr. [Ray] Kelly billed as a graduate of St. John's University School of Law. Alas, we were not mentioned! ... I thought I'd pass along citations for the two times we have honored this incredible crime fighter. I'm not sure if Harvard, mentioned in your article, has honored him even once."

... Well, almost everybody.
Attending the funeral of Police Sgt. Michael Curtin in Patchogue 10 days ago, Kelly entered the rectory of Our Lady of Carmel Church and was bitten in the hand by the priest's dog. His hand was taped up during the service.

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© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.