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 LevittSign up to get column in email

Get a link in your mailbox to your weekly NYPD Confidential column as soon as it is published! Click on the button above right on this page — or here — to sign up for this feature.

The Mayor's Man

April 3, 2017

Richard Haste took a gamble — and lost. The NYPD officer is out of a job, badge, gun and pension.

Haste is the white police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Ramarley Graham in the Bronx five years ago. He had been on modified duty since 2012, but last week he resigned after he was found guilty of poor tactical judgment in a departmental trial.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialHe had refused a sweet offer by former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to retire and keep his pension because Bratton would not give him a “good guy” letter, police sources told NYPD Confidential.

The “good guy” letter is given to officers who retire in good standing, and would have allowed Haste to obtain a pistol permit and keep his gun(s).

Instead, Haste opted for a departmental trial, and a judge found him guilty and recommended his dismissal. (He faces no criminal liability in the shooting.)

In making his offer, Bratton apparently disregarded the wishes of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, police sources have said, told Bratton he wanted Haste fired.

Bratton made the offer in a meeting with Haste and three other NYPD officials, including then-Chief of Department Jimmy O’Neill (who became commissioner last year). It is unclear where O’Neill stood on the offer at the time.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittAs commissioner he was about to fire Haste, as the mayor apparently wanted, but Haste short-circuited him and resigned.

As the mayor also wanted, O’Neill placed Sgt. Hugh Barry on modified assignment in October after he fatally shot Deborah Danner. The 66-year-old Bronx woman, who was black, was mentally disturbed, and police said she attacked Barry with a baseball bat. At the time, O’Neill said: “We failed. … There was a person in crisis. ... We were called to that apartment to help someone [and] we ended up killing her.” Those words were in lockstep with de Blasio, who said:“Deborah Danner should be alive now. Period.” A Bronx grand jury is about to hear the case.

Of course, being the mayor’s man is standard operating procedure for commissioners who savor their jobs. Only Bratton has been the outlier. Just as he bucked de Blasio on Haste and on such issues as the mayor’s fondness for Black Lives Matters, he bucked Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1994, taking credit for the dramatic crime declines in NYC.Two years later,Giuliani forced his retirement.

Bratton’s successor, Howard Safir, so toed the Giuliani line that Rudy called him, “The greatest police commissioner in the history of the city.” Safir successor, Bernie Kerik, paraded around the city after 9/11 in Giuliani’s back pocket. After Giuliani left office, he and Kerik went into business together. Kerik’s successor, Ray Kelly, was allowed to rule the NYPD like a dictator as Mayor Michael Bloomberg showed little interest in policing matters.

In one regard, O’Neill differs from his predecessors. He regularly appears at news conferences with the mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray, whom police distrust even more than they do her husband. At a recent news conference on sex trafficking, which McCray and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson attended, O’Neill kissed each woman on the cheek.

Can you see Bratton doing that? Or Safir? Or Kerik?

Or Ray Kelly?

] Here’s what readers said about naming something in honor of perhaps the greatest journalist of the 20th century.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialJoe Lhota: “How about the Queens Midtown Tunnel?”

John Gorman:“A nice bridge for Breslin would be the Bayonne Bridge from S.I. It is the longest steel-arch bridge in the world. If not that, the railroad bridge from Astoria to the Bronx that runs parallel to the RFK Bridge. It needs a name, too.”

Greg Morris: “One of the behemoth graduate journalism programs should endow a chair after him along with a course about real street reporting. I remember when I was living in Washington Heights … [during] the crack plague … and I would see Breslin alone near the A train subway stop near 175th interviewing people on their way to work. I’ve seen other white reporters up there but only in wolf packs.”

Joe Bruno: “How about renaming Queens Blvd Jimmy Breslin Blvd?”

Charles Rall: “What about Newtown Creek?”

Pete Fiorillo: “How about the Gowanus Canal?”

Tom Robbins: “I got a message from JB only this morning after your column appeared: ‘They want to name a bridge after me? Who are they kidding? I deserve nothing less than a borough!’"

« Back to top
Copyright © 2017 Leonard Levitt