NYPD Confidential - An Inside Look at the New York Police Department
Home Page
All Columns
Contact Leonard Levitt
Search this site
Printable versionSend to a friendEmail Leonard Levitt

Ex-honcho gets his act together

October 8, 2004

Could acting be former deputy commissioner Ed Norris's next career when he gets out of prison?

"Given the number of jobs open to him in his former profession," says a law enforcement official, "this could work out."

Norris, who was Baltimore's police commissioner and now resides in the federal prison at Eglin Air Force base in Florida, appears in the most recent episode of HBO's police drama "The Wire." He is seen sitting on the curb outside a cop's wake, puking his guts out.

It wasn't his first appearance on the show.

Norris has been making cameos on "The Wire" since the show first aired three years ago. The show's creator, David Simon, said Norris filmed the newest episode in May - before he left for prison after pleading guilty to using thousands from a secret police fund for lavish living and philandering.

"He did really well," Simon said of Norris' performance. "He had some raw actor moves. He is responsible. He shows up, works hard. The man needs to earn a living, and we are not going to dump him - assuming he gets out in a couple of months and is still interested.

"This is not to condone what he did, but he happened to be the best police commissioner we have had in the last 25 years," Simon said.

And here's another possiblity: Norris could also become a consultant for cop shows.

In the same episode, which aired Sunday, there's a scene in which Baltimore commanders at a CompStat meeting are pressured to doctor their crime statistics. CompStat, which stands for computer statistics, was established by then-NYPD heavies Jack Maple and Louis Anemone, who grilled precinct commanders.

Who knows the lingo better than Norris, who succeeded Maple as deputy commissioner for operations?

Norris, who is scheduled to get out by the end of the year, appears to be doing well in prison, said John Miller, who was the spokesman for Bill Bratton. Miller, who is now Bratton's terrorism maven in Los Angeles, recently visited Norris.

"He says he reads three books a day," Miller, who was recently detained for carrying a loaded gun on a plane, said. "... He has a job with some machine in the cafeteria. His spirits are up and his mind is clear." But is he ready for his close-up?

Help is [not] on the way. Last week, this column detailed how Aaron Wong, 21, suffered a broken jaw and other injuries in a beating on Staten Island, allegedly by retired cop James Mangone, and was then arrested.

Here are the responses of the law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction in the case:

A spokesman for Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan said Donovan had no comment.

A law enforcement official said U.S. Attorney for Brooklyn Roslynn Mauskopf had no authority to investigate because no complaint had been filed. Wong's mother, Desiree, told Newsday she tried to file a complaint at the 120th Precinct house, where Wong was taken for processing, but was told by the desk officer he could not take her complaint. The official said the incident was something for the Police Department to look into.

Paul Browne, a spokesman for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, did not return a call.

Here are some questions that Internal Affairs Chief Charles Campisi might ask: Who were the cops who responded to the scene of Wong's beating? Who was the supervising sergeant and the desk officer where Wong was taken? Why was Wong placed in a jail cell instead of taken to the hospital?

Always the black man. Remember when Francis X. Livoti's cop buddies suggested a mysterious black man may have caused the death of Anthony Baez, who died in 1994 following Livoti's choke-hold?

Well, it appears a similar mystery man and four or five friends recently turned up in Brooklyn, where a police detective was found walking around in his underwear.

The detective, who was playing with a sex toy in his car, somehow locked himself out of his car. He phoned his wife, saying he had been car-jacked and raped by five or six black men. She called police. The detective repeated the story to investigating officers, then changed his story. He clammed up at the urging of his union delegate. Now he's on modified duty.

Staff writers Sean Gardiner and Rocco Parascandola contributed to this column.

« Back to top

© 2004 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.