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A fed-friendly NYPD? Not yet

January 28, 2002

When former CIA spook David Cohen was introduced at City Hall as the Police Department's deputy commissioner of intelligence, he stood with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Nearby stood Barry Mawn, the head of the FBI's New York office.

Chief of Department Joseph Esposito, the highest-ranking uniformed officer and the second-highest police official in the room, stood apart.

While Kelly introduced Cohen and "my good friend" Mawn to the media, he didn't mention Esposito. He later apologized, saying that although Esposito had been included in his notes, he had simply forgotten him.

For some police officials, that slight - though perhaps small and meaningless - unnerved them.

Kelly's remarks in introducing Cohen reaffirmed their uneasiness.

"The Police Department didn't have the global perspective it needed," Kelly said. "We've had a great intelligence division for many years but they were police officers. In the wake of 9/11, we need a total professional."

Forgetting for a moment, the CIA's own Sept. 11 intelligence lapse, at least one former deputy commissioner was offended by Kelly's remarks.

"Did he [Kelly] forget where he comes from?" he said last week. "What does he think of the job the department has been doing for the last eight years?"

Law enforcement agencies are by their nature insular and parochial.

Not only do the CIA and FBI share a mistrust of each other, but the FBI is notorious for its disdain of local law enforcement agencies. That includes the NYPD.

Recall the anthrax letter to NBC that police officials only learned of through the city's investigation into another anthrax letter. The FBI, which had been notified of the anthrax-tainted letter, never informed the cops.

Sailing the department into uncharted cultural waters by adding a former CIA agent will not come without pain, though many feel what Kelly is doing is necessary.

"During the last two decades, terrorism was never on intel's radar screen," said another former deputy commissioner. (Nor, judging from the country's lack of preparedness for Sept. 11, was it on anybody else's.) Cohen, like retired Marine Lt. Gen. Frank Libutti, who Kelly brought in as a counter-terrorism expert, will report directly to Kelly.

"Some things may not work," the deputy commissioner continued, "but he [Kelly] is smart enough to make adjustments."

Indeed if the department can be melded with the feds, who better to do it than Kelly?

"What commissioner in the past decade knows the people in this department better than me?" Kelly said last week in a brief interview. "I am comfortable with the uniform. I think I'm comfortable with everyone.

"I've been around here for 32 years."

He might have added that as an undersecretary of the Treasury Department and commissioner of customs - as well as being police commissioner during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing - he also knows the feds pretty well.

Nonetheless, suspicions run deep.

The former commissioner who was critical of Kelly's remarks said: "The FBI are smiling like Cheshire cats. They don't mind sharing information with guys if they are feds, even if once removed. The question is, how wide is the intelligence loop? Is he [Kelly] saying, no police officers allowed? Is the loop as wide as the Washington Beltway?"

'The Bronx? No thonx!'
Ogden Nash may have written those words about the city's northernmost borough, but to Lt. Don Henne the Bronx is paradise. Fresh from the Staten Island landfill, supervising the recovery of personal property and human remains from the World Trade Center attack, Henne is now the squad commander of the 42nd Precinct.

Kelly and Chief of Detectives William Allee say the Bronx was Henne's destiny all along and that his brief sojourn at the landfill was unrelated to his having short-circuited the career of Assistant Chief Mike Scagnelli at the Yankee Day celebration in 1999.

Henne was head of City Hall security at the time. What Henne told Mayor Rudolph Giuliani about Scagnelli's comments at the celebration so riled the mayor that Scagnelli was forced to hide out for the next two years in Allee's back office.

Henne's transfer followed a telephone call by Tony Garvey of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association to someone high up in the Police Department.

"I made an appeal within the department," Garvey said. "But I think it [the Bronx assignment] was in the hopper and preceded the decision to the landfill."

Digging Out.
Jim McShane was promoted to deputy chief last week, prompting speculation that he may actually be able to leave the Traffic Division during his lifetime.

McShane has been buried there for the past six years - ever since he hosted former first deputy John Timoney's retirement party after Timoney called Police Commissioner Howard Safir a "lightweight."

"New York will not be New York without traffic," Kelly said at McShane's promotion, "although Jim McShane will be working overtime to convince me otherwise."

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© 2002 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.