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Rudy to fend for himself

June 9, 2003

Rudolph Giuliani had better get all his laundry done this month.

The former mayor has until June 30, when he loses his police security detail, whose job it is to pick it up for him.

That's right, New Yorkers. After 18 months as a private citizen, Giuliani will finally have to forgo the services of a permanent police detail that in addition to delivering his laundry drives him about and perhaps more important, makes him seem important.

The duration of his free police services tops that of Howard Safir by two months. Giuliani allowed Safir to keep his police detail from August 2000, when he quit as police commissioner, through the end of 2001, when Giuliani left office.

It was a great precedent. Safir's successor, the ever-innovative Bernard Kerik, used corrections officers as his detail for his first three months as a private citizen.

City officials and those connected to Giuliani Partners, where Rudy hangs his hat these days while raking in millions of dollars that no one begrudges him, all declined comment. Apparently realizing the jig was up, none of them cited "security concerns" for their lack of an explanation as they had in the past.

Now let's figure out how much money the detail's elimination saves the city in a time of fiscal crisis. Let's begin with the 22-man detail Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowed Giuliani during Bloomberg's first year in office in 2002. The detail "protected" not only the mayor but his wife, two children, his then-mistress, Judi Nathan, and his mother.

Figuring a first- or second-grade detective's salary at $75,000 a year and another $50,000 for health benefits and overtime, this comes to $2,750,000 on the citizens' dime for that year.

In January, Bloomberg nixed the detail for the whole lot of them but Giuliani and reduced it to nine cops. That's another $1,125,000.

Finally, let's ask ourselves why Bloomberg finally got up the courage to stand up to Giuliani.

Perhaps he is taking seriously current Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's claim that overseas "chatter" of al-Qaida militants monitored by the FBI reveals that New York City has become a tougher target for terrorists.

Perhaps those Colombian drug-cartel kidnappers supposedly set to snatch Giuliani on his $4.3 million consulting gambol in Mexico City earlier this year have faded into the coca fields.

Or perhaps Mayor Bloomberg simply decided he'd read enough about himself as a dupe and a hypocrite to allow the detail to continue.

Kelly I and II. There were some testy exchanges between Kelly and black City Council members at last week's hearing on the death of Alberta Spruill following a police raid.

When Helen Foster (D-Bronx) asked Kelly whether black officers had been part of the ill-fated raid on Spruill's Harlem apartment, Kelly answered, "You see that as relevant?"

"I'm sorry you even thought to ask," Foster shot back. "It's very relevant, and I'm sorry that you missed it."

Larry Seabrook, another Bronx council member, seemed perturbed by another Kelly comment. Asked why the majority of police raids were on non-white city residents, Kelly had answered "We go where the work is."

Kelly, also police commissioner a decade ago under Mayor David Dinkins, has a reservoir of good will among black residents, but some have noted that the Kelly of the Dinkins era is different from the Kelly of today.

A former deputy commissioner suggested Kelly's terse comments were the result of the enormous pressures he feels, both in fighting terrorism and in ensuring crime remains low.

Crime has become a political issue now as never before. Though hardly attributable to Kelly, Bloomberg's opponents will seize on any rise.

"No one wants to be there when crime goes up," the former deputy commissioner noted. "Politicians will use it against the mayor. Kelly knows this."

Mum on Zongo. Why did the Police Department issue a detailed report on the death of Alberta Spruill but none about the shooting of Ousmane Zongo? Why did Bloomberg and Kelly attend Spruill's funeral but not that of the unarmed African shot to death by police Officer Bryan Conroy? Law enforcement officials offer these distinctions.

First, Spruill's death is not considered criminal. Her raid's participants are unlikely to face indictment.

Second, Zongo's death may well result in criminal charges against Conroy. Attending Zongo's funeral might jeopardize Conroy's right to a fair court hearing.

Third, Spruill's death is regarded as part of a systemic problem.

Even though Zongo's death resembles that of Amadou Diallo, the unarmed African shot 19 times, Zongo's is seen as an isolated incident, not - as many viewed the over-aggressive, expanded Street Crime Unit - as an event waiting to happen.

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© 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.