Prince Falkenrath’s Travels
February 19, 2007
Deputy Commissioner for Counter-Terrorism Richard Falkenrath may be helping the NYPD and the citizens of New York in fighting Al Qaeda. But the NYPD and the citizens of New York are sure helping him.
They are treating him like a prince.
Last week, this column reported that the NYPD had leased two luxury cars for the 37-year-old Falkenrath at a cost to tax-payers of $20,000 a year.
This week we will tell you how the NYPD — i.e., the city tax-payers — spent nearly $13,000 on his week-long junket last month to London and Singapore.
Preparations began last July, a month after Falkenrath arrived in New York from Washington, when he e-mailed his friend, Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna, in Singapore. “As you may have heard,” Falkenrath wrote, “I’ve gone back into public service as the deputy commissioner for Counter-terrorism of the NYPD.”
A month later, Ramakrishna invited Falkenrath to give the “Distinguished Dinner Lecture” on Jan. 16, 2007, for the Asia-Pacific Program for Senior National Security Officers [APPSNO] in Singapore.
“This one-week senior executive seminar for Singaporean and foreign officers will cover home/national security issues,” Ramakrishna wrote. “In this respect I hope that you will be able to deliver a lecture on ‘Mass Surface Land Transportation Security in the Age of Transnational Terrorism.’”
Falkenrath had reservations about the topic. “Mass Transit is important to me,” he wrote back on August 25th, “but a bit narrow.”
When Ramakrishna assured him he could speak “on any topic which you feel is relevant to senior homeland security officials,” Falkenrath responded on Aug. 27: “Thanks, Kumar. I like this and will run it by the Police Commissioner.”
On Sept. 15, Falkenrath e-mailed that he had received “a preliminary thumbs up to do this. Re. my topic, I am thinking of something like ‘Protecting the City: Observations and Lessons from New York.’”
It was not immediately clear what lessons and observations Falkenrath hoped to impart, as he had at that time been on the job in New York only three months.
He then asked Ramakrishna for a round-trip, business-class ticket on a non-stop Singapore Airlines flight from Newark, a room in downtown Singapore at the Hyatt or Raffles [Hotel], and a car and driver.
Ramakrishna answered the same day. “This is terrific news. The topic … is great. And will excite interest here. We will be happy to provide a room at one of those hotels as well as arrange for transportation.…Will you be able to stay the whole week or less?”
“Probably three nights is the max I can stay,” Falkenrath answered, “and I’m going to have some bilateral meetings with government officials during that period.”
Falkenrath left for Singapore from Newark on Friday, Jan. 12. He stayed three days, in a junior suite at the Hyatt at $348 a night. He gave his speech on Jan 16, then flew to London on another non-stop Singapore airline, business class. He stayed in London two nights, then flew back to New York on Jan. 19 on an American Airlines flight — also business class — into JFK.
According to an NYPD source, the department’s travel agency, Austin Travel in Melville, L.I., was billed for the airfare from Newark to Singapore to London to JFK — a total of $9,420.10.
Falkenrath also claimed expenses of: hotels $1,996; meals $761; and ground transportation $500 — a total of $3,257. That’s a total cost for the trip of $12,677.10.
Falkenrath referred questions about the trip to the department’s Office of Public Information. Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne did not return a call from this reporter for comment.
So now we’ll pose some questions that perhaps Browne will decide to answer some day:
One: What was the purpose of Falkenrath’s trip? What was the benefit to the NYPD? According to the AAPSNO Singapore program, a copy of which was obtained by this reporter, the NYPD already had a representative at the conference — Lieut. Scott Stein. Stein is one of the NYPD’s detectives based overseas, whose expenses are paid for by the Police Foundation and who police sources say is based in Singapore.
Two: How many other NYPD officials fly business, rather than tourist, class? Does Lieut. Stein? Do all the other overseas-based NYPD officers?
Three: Was the $500 Falkenrath claimed in ground transportation for his driver?
Four: What was the purpose of Falkenrath’s detour to London? Did the NYPD pay his expenses there?
Five: How much of his cost was picked up by the Singapore authorities?
Six: Despite the talk between Falkenrath and Ramakrishna of getting him a round-trip ticket and putting him up at a hotel, guess who ultimately got the bill? Answer: the NYPD.
And regarding his two NYPD-leased luxury cars — a 2007 Ford Expedition and a 2007 Chrysler 300 Touring car — which one was waiting for him at JFK when he returned?