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Ghosts of NYPD past meet future

January 13, 2003

The past and the future met last week when Rudolph Giuliani testified at the federal hearing of former police officer Joseph Locurto, fired for riding on a racist float in 1998.

The past was the New York Civil Liberties Union's attempt to join the Patrolman's Benevolent Association in trying to win back Locurto's job by turning his shenanigans into a free-speech issue.

It was another incredible assertion by former Police Commissioner Howard Safir that despite Giuliani's statement that Locurto must be fired, Safir never felt pressured into firing him.

It was also attorney Marvyn Kornberg's trying to browbeat the former mayor in his cross-examination in defending two firefighters who were on the float with Locurto and were also fired. Say what you will about Kornberg - who sought to convince jurors that Abner Louima's injuries occurred from gay sex - the man is consistent.

He is obnoxious to everyone.

In questioning Giuliani, he seized on the slightest discrepancy in the former mayor's testimony with the assiduousness of a man who thinks he has discovered an al-Qaida sleeper cell.

The future was the former mayor. First, the absence of his comb-over.

Giuliani, post 9/11, now reveals himself as virtually bald, presenting a scholarly, thoughtful, almost intellectual, appearance.

Second, his manner. On the witness stand, he never raised his voice.

He never insulted his interlocutors. He responded politely to each question, including those of U.S. District Judge John Sprizzo of Manhattan, who asked whether Giuliani hadn't in fact fired Safir's predecessor, William Bratton, for disagreeing with him.

So impressive a personage has the former mayor become that civil liberties attorney Chris Dunn, who's defending Locurto, inadvertently referred to him as "Your Honor."

But it was outside the courtroom that the former mayor was even more impressive. He stood outside the courthouse, surrounded by four plainclothes New York City police officers. This apparently is the scaled-down version of Giuliani's detail that Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to provide after Giuliani interceded to countermand Kelly's plan to end the detail.

Since not one credible threat against Giuliani since he left office has been made public, one might conclude that the detail is less about security than about appearances. Four cops surrounding you, who peel off in an unmarked car when you leave, makes you look, and feel, important.

New Yorkers can take small consolation that their tax dollars no longer support a police detail for Giuliani's ex-wife, his fiancee or his two children, whose "security" is provided privately - by former police commissioner Bernard Kerik.

Recalling Markman. The Police Department's medical board has for the third time approved a lucrative line-of-duty disability pension for former Chief of Personnel Michael Markman. The three-man board approved Markman without examining him, police sources said.

Eyebrows were raised two years ago when Markman was examined privately in the office of the department's chief surgeon, Dr. Robert Thomas, who reported to Markman. He claimed to have suffered a back injury in 1993. The medical board, which also reported to Markman, then approved him.

But the department's pension board denied Markman the tax-free pension, with some police unions abstaining. Markman had infuriated the unions because the medical board had rejected disabilities for officers with injuries deemed more serious than his.

Markman's case again returns to the Pension Board.

Retiring Guy. No one at One Police Plaza understood how in 1997 Bill Allee was selected chief of detectives. No one understood how Allee could put up with Howard Safir starting each staff meeting with "Where is Irene Silverman," the missing East Side heiress. No one understood how Allee weathered an attempt by Kerik to replace him. And no one understood how Kelly retained him.

Next month, when Allee retires after a 40-year career, he will have served as chief of detectives longer than anyone in department history, save one man, James Sullivan (if the dates on the plaques on Allee's office wall can be believed). Allee's loyalties were to the department, to his country and to his family. Although former Staten Island borough president Guy Molinari was rumored to have been his "rabbi," Allee always denied he had a protector.

His proudest boast was that he never provided a single bit of confidential information to this reporter. What he provided was more valuable - insight.

The Jogger [cont'd]. Kelly may not allow the public to get to the bottom of the Central Park jogger case. Asked last week if he would release the internal report he commissioned by two outside attorneys, Michael Armstrong and Jules Martin, which examines the department's role in the case 13 years ago, Kelly said it depended on what was in it.

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© 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.