One Police Plaza

The Big Chief Does It His Way

February 13, 1995

There is the chief, and then there is The Chief.

The chief, Police Commissioner William Bratton, was directed last week to cut staff in the departments of Public Information, Personnel, Management and Budget and Applicant Processing, which together employ about 200 police officers. It was this directive that led Deputy

Commissioner John Miller to resign Friday.

But The Chief, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has said nothing about cutting staff in another section - the department's community affairs office - that, police officials say, employs 160 cops. Community Affairs is headed by Walter Alicea, a former detective bucked up to the post when Giuliani took office. Alicea also headed the department's Hispanic Society and threw that organization's support to the mayor in his race against David N. Dinkins two years ago.

So, as they say at 1 Police Plaza, it all adds up.

Gabe and Marvyn and Christyne and John. One of the city's best known newscasters, Gabe Pressman, and one of its better known criminal attorneys, Marvyn Kornberg, happened to be down at 1 Police Plaza on Friday. As both are friends of former Deputy Commissioner Miller, they began speculating about his resignation.

Pressman, who's been covering city hall for 40 years, said Mayor Giuliani's attempt to control the Police Department's daily life was a throwback to the 1950s when it was run by the Democratic political machine. All that changed, Pressman recalled, when Mayor Robert Wagner appointed as police commissioner Frank Adams, a lawyer with a reputation as a reformer. A certain autonomy has characterized the relationship between city hall and the NYPD ever since. Even the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information has been the police commissioner's hire, with approval by city hall - not vice-versa. Until now.

Kornberg said Bratton had made a mistake by not publicly backing Miller. "His image is that of a terrific crime fighter and I think the public thinks highly of him. Had he done so, the mayor would have had to back off."

Police insiders say Bratton's resignation is unlikely, at least for now. Unlike Miller, who's already said to be lining up another television job, Bratton has limited contacts in New York. More importantly, he has limited savings. He gave up his Bay State pension when he precipitously left Boston, where he'd spent most of his career. And talented as she may be, no one can imagine his wife, Cheryl Fiandaca, retaining her $ 70,000-a-year position as a John Jay College professor for one minute after he quits on the mayor.

Pressman, who worked with Miller at Ch. 4, also mentioned Miller had had "a casual relationship" with mayoral spokeswoman Christyne Lategano. She and Miller trained together for last fall's New York City Marathon and the two were often seen together at Miller's favorite haunt, Elaine's restaurant. But within the last two weeks, she'd been extremely critical of his work, Miller has told friends.

Lategano, who will now play a key role in the department's dissemination of information, did not return repeated telephone calls.

More on Otto.
Officer Otto, the pseudonymous Internal Affairs informant who infiltrated the 30th Precinct and told it all to the Mollen Commission, ended up on a confidential squad led by Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple. But neither Maple nor Bratton knew for six months that the new cop was the same guy who'd testified with a hood over his head as Officer Otto. Only after the Manhattan district attorney began investigating a former partner of indicted 30th Precinct cop George Nova did Bratton discover the truth from Internal Affairs head Walter Mack - that Nova's former partner was actually Otto, and that Otto had been assigned to Maple's squad, debriefing prisoners arrested for guns and drugs. Only two people had known Otto's real identifty - Mack and former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Bratton then warned Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau that this was no ordinary cop his office was investigating. Prosecutors are looking into perjury allegations but refuse to specify what Otto allegedly did.

Otto, meanwhile, has hired attorney Richard Emery, who says Otto was recruited by the Mollen commission through a cop in prison, also convicted by Morgenthau's office of perjury. The commission promised leniency to that cop. Trouble is, the commission never consulted Morgenthau's office about its promise, which is yet another source of tension between the two agencies.

But while the Mollen Commission believed they'd discovered someone to lead them through the labyrinth of corruption in the Dirty 30, they soon discovered Otto was even more valuable. For Otto also drew them a road map of of the collapse of Internal Affairs. Through 1991, when Otto left the 30th Precinct, all his reports were ignored by his superiors.

Tough luck, Dave.
Nine hundred guests celebrated First Deputy Commissioner David Scott's retirement last month after 34 years of service. Now, Scott has applied for a lucrative disablity pension as a result of what he says was a knee injury suffered in a radio car accident 33 years ago - his first on the job. Scott also claimed he had a heart problem, but the police pension's medical board quickly disapproved both. It found the 59-year-old Scott too healthy to be classified disabled.

©1995 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.