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Party poopers need not apply

October 29, 2004

One of the NYPD's dirty little secrets is its culture of tolerated drinking.

Occasionally, an incident occurs that is so outrageous it becomes public. A decade ago at a police gathering in Washington, semi-naked NYPD cops terrorized guests at various hotels. Three years ago, Sgt. Joseph Gray killed four people when he drove drunk after a precinct beer party.

Here now is a lesser incident that reveals why drunkenness flourishes in the department and what happened when an officer dared to report it.

The incident - including the failure of two lieutenants to take action after the cop reported a third lieutenant's drunkenness to them - is now being investigated by the Internal Affairs Bureau.

On Sept. 30, officers from the 105th Precinct in Queens held an emergency "10-13" fund-raiser for a sergeant whose wife is ill. The party began in the afternoon and continued into the night.

An officer objected to the actions of Lt. John Hall, who had taken off his shirt and was screaming at some female cops with his gun visible.

"He was obviously drunk and out of control," said the cop, whose account was supported by two other officers - one a supervisor, the other a cop who had photographed Hall with his digital camera.

The first cop said he complained to Lt. John Breheny that night. "Breheny said, 'That's your opinion, not mine,'" the cop told Newsday.

"I said, 'I am talking to you man to man,'" the officer said.

"You talk to me as a cop to a lieutenant," the officer said Breheny replied.

"It's disgusting," said the cop with the camera. "You try to do the right thing and the supervisors do nothing. If a cop or sergeant acted this way ... "

The first cop said he was also ignored by the precinct's integrity control officer. Meanwhile, the cop said Breheny retaliated by following him on his assignments and citing him for minor violations.

Contacted by phone, Breheny said of the cop: "He said nothing to me. I have no allegations of misconduct. If he has knowledge, he should bring it to my attention and I will uphold my responsibilities."

Neither Hall nor the ICO returned calls.

So long. Cutter. Deputy Chief John Cutter is the second heavyweight to leave the Intelligence Division within the last month - and the second to leave with a bitter taste in his mouth.

Cutter, Intel's commanding officer, worked 16-hour days, often sleeping in his office. He will become president of Beau Dietl and Associates, the security and investigative agency headed by the rambunctious former NYPD detective formerly known as "Bo."

"He comes with great credentials," says the Bo-man. "He was a detective for a lot of years. He knows investigations. He's a guy who rolls up his sleeves. He's the guy covering your back. With him, I can offer building owners and corporations real security."

Dietl says Cutter was so well regarded Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told him, "You have one of our best men." Dietl says he assured Kelly he could have Cutter one day a week.

"If you need him, he will be down there," he says he told the commissioner.

A year ago, Cutter was point man on Intel's much-criticized "demonstration debriefing forms." After an anti-war march, Intel detectives used the form to question arrested protesters in their jail cells about their friends and political beliefs. In an affidavit filed before U.S. District Judge Charles S. Haight, Cutter acknowledged requesting the form for Intel detectives and added that Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen was aware of it.

Dietl says Cutter left the NYPD "in the classiest way."

"He had the class to stay for one month. Who gives 30 days' notice to the NYPD? Then Cohen asked him to stay for another 30 days," Dietl said.

Still, Cutter's departure ended on a sour note, as did that of Insp. Kevin Perham, the division's executive officer, who was threatened with transfer after requesting a leave for a family matter. Last week, Cutter held a farewell party in an Intel conference room. Cohen didn't show.

Broken windows. Although one of two revolving doors at Police Plaza has been repaired, the second is inoperative and apparently will remain so. A sign posted this week reads, "Entrance Closed for Security Reasons."

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© 2004 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.