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

The Zeigler Shuffle

January 30, 2006

It sounded as though something good had happened to Douglas Zeigler, the NYPD’s highest ranking black officer and its only three star-chief.

Last Thursday, the department announced his transfer from the head of the Organized Crime control Bureau to the head of Community Affairs, which, according to its press release, would be “revitalized and expanded.”

“No one is better qualified nor better experienced to tackle the task at hand than Doug Zeigler who has a proven track record of outstanding management performance and leadership in his oversight of the Organized Crime Control Bureau and the Housing Bureau,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

But a closer look at Zeigler’s transfer tells a different story: that he was actually flopped as the head of OCCB and that his nemesis, Anthony Izzo, a two-star chief who worked under him, will be promoted to replace him.

As a high-ranking department official put it: “They clashed constantly. They were fighting over how to run the operation. The Job supported Izzo.”

And what of Zeigler’s “proven track record of outstanding management performance and leadership” that Kelly spouted?

First, it was Kelly who promoted Zeigler from the head of Housing, which is considered a minor bureau, to the high-powered bureau of Organized Crime, where Zeigler’s tenure was at best undistinguished. At the half-dozen OCCB news conferences this reporter attended in the past three years, Zeigler spoke not one word. Often, he stood off to the side, apart from the other top uniformed officers nearer the microphone who, at Kelly’s behest, did the talking.

In fact, Zeigler’s transfer reflects a larger problem for the department – the shortage of black officers in decision-making positions at its highest levels. The shortage is so stark that there are fewer than a dozen black chiefs and inspectors in a job with an estimated 38,000 officers.

Equally disheartening is that most of them have come from outside the department – from either the Housing or Transit police, both of which were merged with the NYPD a decade ago under former mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Zeigler, for example, came from Housing as a Deputy Chief and has been shuffled about the department ever since.

No one has figured out a reason for the shortage of top black officers in the NYPD. No one has publicly addressed it. Is it that the department is not attracting black officers as qualified as their white and Hispanic counterparts? Or are younger black officers not being groomed for leadership roles?

Obviously aware of the problem, Kelly – who as police commissioner under former Mayor David Dinkins, recruited each Sunday at black churches – has placed these few top blacks in visible but non-operational positions. His transfer of Zeigler from Housing to OCCB was an exception. It proved unsuccessful as Zeigler’s transfer to Community Affairs attests.

The fighting McCarthys [Con’t]. “I can’t have this happening. I have to report it to my superiors. It has to go away.”

These were the words of NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Garry McCarthy as testified to last week by the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police tour commander of last February 18th, after McCarthy and his wife Regina had been handcuffed, disarmed, and arrested by two Palisades Parkway cops.

On the third day of the McCarthys’ trial in a New Jersey traffic court, the tour commander, Sgt. Jack Auslander, also testified that Garry McCarthy had “a detectable odor of alcohol.”

Testimony further revealed that, after their arrest, both McCarthys appeared temperate and cooperative, although Garry remained agitated. [Who wouldn’t be, fearing your career might be about to implode?]

So far, however, police commissioner Ray Kelly has taken no action, his spokesman Paul Browne maintaining at the time that the summons McCarthy received – for “obstructing vehicular and pedestrian traffic” and for which he is ostensibly on trial – does not rise to the level of discipline. Regina is contesting her summons for “unreasonable noise.”

Why the department’s Internal Affairs bureau began investigating the case the week shortly after Browne spoke and why two IAB officers are monitoring his trial appears unclear.

In Garry McCarthy’s defense, the courtroom has been filled with police and civilian supporters. His alleged actions notwithstanding, he commands a following.

Watching him and Regina seated together in the courtroom’s first row, their teenage daughter Kimberly behind them, one cannot conclude anything other than that they appear be a close family who care for each other.

Nonetheless, no testimony has yet refuted the Palisades Parkway police’s allegations: first, that Garry and Regina cursed and fought with two Palisades officers over a parking ticket issued to their daughter Kyla. Second, that after the Palisades officers took McCarthy’s weapon, Regina retrieved it from a police vehicle, shouting, “That’s my husband’s fucking gun.”

The trial’s finale is scheduled for Feb. 23rd. Estimated legal costs for the McCarthys so far: $10,000 and counting.

No More Minder [Con’t]. Your Humble Servant returned again to One Police Plaza last Thursday. Again, after a couple of phone calls, I was issued a pass, allowing me to travel to the 13th floor – again without a minder.

When I sought permission to travel to the 2nd floor – where the in-house police reporters are based, to confer with my former Newsday colleague Rocco Parascandola – the Public Information Office’s two desk sergeants said they would have to check with their superiors.

A few minutes later, one of them returned from the office of Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. Permission to travel to the second floor: denied.

« Back to top

Copyright © 2006 Leonard Levitt