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

Where Is Zach? 

November 9, 2015 

Readers, do you know the Gothic novel “Jane Eyre”? Jane, a poor girl, falls in love with her rich master, Edward Rochester, who wants to marry her. But, unbeknownst to Jane, he has hidden his deranged wife in his mansion’s attic so that no one will know she exists.

Well, the NYPD is hiding someone on the 14th floor in Police Plaza. Apparently they, too, don’t want anyone to know he exists. His name is Zach Tumin. Tumin is not deranged. Far from it. He is the Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives. His earns $180,000 year. But no one has seen him recently. And no one in the NYPD can explain what he’s done for the past 18 months.

Tumin is one of Commissioner Bill Bratton’s backroom guys, shadowy figures whom the public rarely sees but who exert a powerful influence within the NYPD. One of those is John Linder, the multi-hundred-thousand-dollar consultant from New Mexico who wrote Bratton’s “re-engineering” strategies 20 years ago and who returned to the NYPD last year to write Bratton’s strategies for the current climate. Bratton’s second multi-hundred thousand dollar consultant, his longtime pal Robert Wasserman, is reputed to be so influential that promotions must be cleared with him.

Then there’s Tumin. He and Bratton also go back a ways. According to Tumin’s resume on LinkedIn, he wrote Bratton’s book, “Collaborate or Perish” — “with” Bratton. The book’s press release describes Bratton and Tumin as co-authors.

In Tumin’s defense, the deputy commissioner for strategic initiatives never had a defined mission. But he described it this way in his resume: “[S]erving on Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s executive staff. Zach leads the NYPD’s internal innovation group, chartered to stand-up new units and operations. There, he has been responsible for establishing the NYPD’s social media and digital engagement platforms, now with over 100 account holders, and 1 million followers and friends.”

So what happened? First, Tumin got himself in some trouble with a couple of tweets, seeming to blame mentally ill people for “walking into police bullets.” That set off a Twitter uproar.

One knowledgeable police person described Tumin’s problem as “social awkwardness,” adding: “He antagonized a lot of people at Police Plaza.”

Since then, his staff of 20 has been removed. Only an intern and a secretary remain. Call his number and a female voice says, “Hello. You have reached Strategic Initiatives office. We are unavailable to answer the phone at this time. Please leave a message and someone will return your call. Thank you. And have a nice day.”

Whether it was demonstrating against then-Mayor David Dinkins at City Hall with ugly racial overtones; whether it was protesting then-Bronx District Attorney Mario Merola’s decision to indict Police Officer Stephen Sullivan in the shooting death of Eleanor Bumpers; whether it was parading last week outside the East Side home of Howard Edelman, the Public Employment Relations Board arbitrator, few sights are scarier than an organized mob of cops.

PBA President Pat Lynch rolled the dice when he scrapped negotiating a new contract with Mayor Bill de Blasio, thinking he’d get a better deal with a state arbitrator. Lynch lost. Edelman all but stiffed the cops with a one percent raise. Many uniformed workers in NYC are under contracts that have 11 percent increases over several years. 

Lynch then sent out his goons to harass Edelman.

The mayor reacted in his typically gratuitous and ignorant fashion when it comes to cops, indicating that Lynch’s views don’t reflect those of the rank-and-file. That may have been what some police people told the mayor after cops turned their backs on him at the funerals of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

Memo to de Blasio from Your Humble Servant: When it concerns more money, cops are united.

Police reporter Graham Rayman is back at 1 Police Plaza. In today’s newspaper world of musical chairs, Rayman, who did tours covering the NYPD for Newsday and the Village Voice, has hitched on with the Daily News, replacing Tina Moore, who moved over to the Post.

In 2011, Rayman won the NY Press Club’s top award for stories about how the NYPD downgraded crime statistics, based on secret tape recordings made by police officer Adrian Schoolcraft. After Schoolcraft walked off the job, the police dragged him to Jamaica Hospital, which held him in its psych ward. After years of litigation and reiterations that they would forego money to expose police corruption, Adrian and his father, Larry, settled last week with the hospital for an undisclosed sum.

« Back to top
Copyright © 2015 Leonard Levitt