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Miller likely to boot Kelly

June 24, 2005

Mayor Michael Bloomberg publicly begged Bernie Kerik to remain as police commissioner when Bloomberg ran for mayor in 2001. But it doesn't sound like City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Gifford Miller would ask the same of Ray Kelly.

"Every mayor deserves to be able to choose his own police commissioner," Miller said in an interview with Newsday about his plans for the department should he be elected mayor.

Miller, one of four declared Democratic candidates, appeared to give only partial endorsement to what many see as Kelly's legacy - his fight against terrorism.

Saying he would keep the deputy commissioners of intelligence and counterterrorism - positions Kelly established - Miller hesitated on whether he would continue Kelly's policy of posting NYPD detectives overseas, a policy requiring private funding as it supersedes the City Charter and places the department in competition with the FBI in gathering intelligence. "I would want to review with my police commissioner, whoever it might be ... to make a determination at that time," he said.

Rather, Miller expanded on one of his own more publicized proposals - appointing a local director of homeland security or a terrorism czar. Jerry Hauer, who had a job of similar but more limited scope under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, appeared with Miller at a news conference earlier this week on the subject. The job would entail coordinating the police and fire response to a terrorist attack.

At a recent City Council hearing, Miller had criticized Bloomberg for allowing Kelly and the Police Department to usurp the role of the FDNY in certain emergencies.

"My director of homeland security would break a tie," he said.

Miller declined to say whom he might appoint police commissioner or whether his commissioner would come from inside the NYPD. And he acknowledged he was not close to any top police officials. But he added, "I am not saying I am not familiar with them."

Miller has avoided the political entanglement of Democratic front-runner Fernando Ferrer, who earlier this year said the fatal police shooting of the unarmed Amadou Diallo was "a tragedy, not a crime."

"Anytime an innocent life is lost," Miller said, "it is a crime against humanity." But sounding like Ferrer, he added, "My purpose is not to re-live the case but to move forward."

Ill Bill. Former Chief of Detectives William Allee has become the first known top police official to obtain a line-of-duty, tax-free disability pension from the World Trade Center attack.

Allee, who was at Ground Zero when the towers fell, was awarded his disability for hearing loss.

Police sources say Allee had previously been rejected for disability pensions involving heart and lung problems. A former department official and friend of his pointed out that Allee had been hospitalized after his retirement in 2003 with heart issues.

Allee's claim of hearing loss is reminiscent of that of former Chief of Department Robert Johnston, who in 1991 obtained a similar line-of-duty disability pension, stemming from what he claimed were exploding shells at a Rolling Stones concert he had supervised two years before.

An investigation of top brass pension abuse in 1993 by New York Newsday revealed that none of the three cops with Johnston at the concert suffered hearing loss. Newsday's investigation further revealed that the department lacked a definitive assessment of Johnson's hearing ability before the concert and that records indicated doctors were uncertain if other factors, including age, contributed to the hearing loss. Johnston was 62 when granted the pension.

After the Newsday investigation, the department tightened its line-of-duty pension requirements for the next decade under Giuliani. But the Bloomberg administration has shown little concern. Bloomberg's representative on the police pension board reversed the Giuliani administration position to support the questionable disability claim of former Chief of Personnel Michael Markman, who claimed a back injury a decade previous to his retirement. Others on the board, which is composed of city and police union officials, denied the pension.

A spokesman for the Police Department said it would contact the 63-year-old Allee, but no comment from him was received. So far as is known, no other police officer has been granted a disability pension for hearing loss at Ground Zero.

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© 2005 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.