One Police Plaza

Bratton's Wife Joins O.J. TV

January 30, 1995

Cops watching the O.J. Simpson trial on television at One Police Plaza (and at the well-patronized bar across the street called the Metropolitan Improvement Company) may have noticed Cheryl Fiandaca getting more air time than her police commissioner husband.

A former criminal defense attorney, Fiandaca has appeared on three television programs as a trial commentator. She says she has been offering her commentary without seeking payment, but adds, "This is not to say I won't in the future."

Bart Feder, assistant news director for WABC's "Eyewitness News," says he located Fiandaca - who is married to Commissioner William Bratton - through a list of legal experts provided by John Jay College, where she earns $ 70,000 as an adjunct professor after the program she was hired to direct evaporated for lack of funds. "So far, so good," Feder says of her TV appearances. "She adds something to our broadcast."

Magalie Laguerre, assistant producer of Fox TV's "Street Talk," says of Fiandaca, "She has this look of confidence. She knows what she's talking about." And spokesman Scott Seomin of the syndicated program "Entertainment Tonight" says, "She speaks in laymen's terms, to the viewer who doesn't have a legal background."

Fiandaca also appeared twice last year on Court Television but hasn't been back since.

The daughter of a Boston clerk-magistrate, she says, "I was typing search warrants since I was 11 years old. I did criminal defense work for 10 years. I worked for the DA's office in Boston as a legal assistant when I was in law school." She graduated from the New England School of Law in 1984.

A year ago, when her husband became NYPD's police commissioner, Fiandaca was hired at John Jay Ccollege as the "director of international training." Spokesman Rob Pignatello acknowleges the program "didn't take off as we anticipated." So, now, she says, she teaches courses in criminal law, evidence and procedure; runs programs in police training for hospital security personnel, correction officers and transit detectives; and is developing criminal justice programs for high school and even junior high students. "My ideas are mushrooming," says Fiandaca.

Responding to reports last week that she was looking for a new job, NYPD spokesman John Miller said Fiandaca was "bored" at John Jay. Fiandaca denies it, although she says she might someday join a criminal law firm. But, she adds, "I've always wanted to get into academia. I want to teach, desperately. I think I am one of the best teachers here."

The captain and the principal.
Schools Chancellor Ramon Cortines has called for disciplinary action against the principal of a Queens junior high school who failed to report a series of crimes against students of Indian ancestry.

Last year 20 incidents ranging from assaults and mugging to rape occurred at JHS 226 but the principal, John Baxter, filed reports to superiors on only three, according to the results of a study sent to Cortines by Zachary Tumin, executive director of the Division of School Safety.

Baxter's actions, Tumin wrote, indicate "an apparently sustained pattern of failure to appropriately report incidents which occur in and around the school building, purposeful interference with criminal justice processes and a disregard for the safety and well-being of the children in his charge."

Fearful Indian parents contacted Capt. Artie Stroch of the 106th Precinct, who conducted an undercover investigation and, despite Baxter's lack of cooperation, arrested 20 students in just the first week. Storch also visited local Hindu temples, urging victims to come forward. "Perhaps in their country they had been afraid of the police," he explained. "I wanted them to know the NYPD were here for them."

Baxter called the report "inaccurate," said he never had a chance to respond to it and urged a new investigation.

The judge and the slasher.
Fifth Precinct Det. Louis Richardson is investigating the slashing of Acting Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Carol Arber's car tires earlier this month. Arber fears the slashings may be retribution for decisions she made against Stanley Israel, president of the Corrections Officers union, who Arber ruled had held unauthorized elections, miscounted votes and created a $ 3 million re-election slush fund. Richardson says anything's possible. Israel terms Arber's conjecture "outrageous."

Chiefs and tuxedos.
In dismissing Internal Affairs head Walter Mack, Commissioner William Bratton referred to Mack's lack of "rapport" with department top brass. Mack's predecessor, once or twice removed, is the legendary John Guido, who actually cultivated such a lack, pointedly distancing himself from all other bosses. Guido refused to attend police social functions, even announcing he'd fire any chief in his command who owned a tuxedo. "I don't want a chief who owns a tuxedo because I don't want my men socializing with cops at their parties," Guido liked to say.

Mack certainly was aloof but he did attend police functions. He was one of many top officials at the retirement dinner last week of former Personnel Chief Mike Julian. But unlike First Deputy (and master of ceremonies) John Timoney, whose man Pat Kelleher will head Internal Affairs, Mack wore a suit - not a tuxedo.

©1995 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.