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It's settled, but questions linger

September 23, 2002

So the world may never know beyond a doubt whether former police officer Charles Schwarz was the "second man" in the bathroom of the 70th Precinct station house when Justin Volpe sodomized Abner Louima with a broomstick.

It may also never know whether Schwarz held Louima down, whether Louima mistook Schwarz for his cop pal, Tommy Wiese, or whether Wiese, as he claimed, was the second officer in the bathroom, but only after the assault had ended.

In short the Louima case has ended not with earth-shaking effects but with a fizzle.

Schwarz's agreement to accept a 5-year prison term (he already served 33 months that won't be credited as time served) in return for the government's dropping a fourth trial, carries with it a gag order for him, his wife, Andra, and his lawyers.

Schwarz did not admit his guilt but he can no longer shout he is innocent or that the government railroaded him. The government - i.e., outgoing prosecutor Alan Vinegrad - can no longer shout that Schwarz was the second man and lied about it.

Even Schwarz's most effective supporter, Andra, has agreed to be silenced and to shut down the Free Chuck Schwarz Web site.

And the final question remains: If Schwarz was not the second man in the bathroom, why did he perjure himself when he said he didn't lead Louima toward it?

Blasting McKinsey. Former police commissioner Bernard Kerik appeared at the 92nd Street Y last week, pitching his book and disparaging the McKinsey report, which has criticized the police department's and fire department's response to the World Trade Center attack.

That report - actually there were two, one commissioned by the Police Department, the other by the Fire Department - has become a touchstone of grievance by former mayor Rudolph Giuliani against the current administration.

In his most pointed criticism to date, Kerik said the McKinsey report lacked "proper perspective" and "operational knowledge and operational insight."

"It [the WTC attack] was a wartime event. The city was under attack," Kerik said. "We responded to an attack on this country. Unless they were standing next to me, they have no right [to criticize]...Call me crazy but I don't give a damn."

Kerik then issued his most damning criticism. The McKinsey authors, he said, failed to interview Giuliani.

A former top police official said Lee Kempler, the McKinsey partner who headed the investigation into the police response, "told me that [Police Commissioner Ray] Kelly had specifically directed him not to interview Giuliani. He said it wasn't necessary."

Kempler, through spokesman Andrew Giancola, denied the allegation. "Our mandate was to talk to only those in the department with operational responsibilities," Giancola said.

The big choice. Assuming the fix isn't in, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn will choose Bill Bratton or John Timoney as the city's next police commissioner. Here are some career highlights:

1994. Giuliani appoints Bratton police commissioner, firing incumbent Ray Kelly. Bratton's mandate: Change the department's culture and reduce crime. Bratton promotes Timoney to chief of department.

1995. Crime, which began falling under Kelly after a 20-year rise, goes into free fall, reaching today's historic lows. Bratton announces that when he retires, Timoney should succeed him.

1996. When Bratton turns up on the cover of Time magazine, Giuliani leaks details of Bratton's freebie trips paid for by his millionaire friends. Bratton resigns and Giuliani appoints Howard Safir to succeed him. Timoney calls Safir a "lightweight" and quits.

1998. Timoney is appointed police commissioner of Philadelphia, where he reduces crime and eases tensions with the city's non-white minorities.

2001. Bratton backs Mark Green for mayor, hoping to return as police commissioner. Timoney quits Philadelphia and returns to New York in the private sector.

2002. Bratton and Timoney both apply for the Los Angeles police job.

Gone: Donna Hanover's security detail.

Going: Andrew and Caroline Giuliani's.

Remaining: Rudy's and Judy Nathan's.

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© 2002 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.