One Police Plaza

NYPD Hispanic Society Purges Borough Bigs

July 3, 1995

The president of that political hotbed, the NYPD's Hispanic Society, has just dismissed all its borough trustees.

"We have been embarrassed too many times in the past," Wanda Burgos said.

Burgos said the dismissals are unrelated to a recent amendment proposed by Queens trustee Rafael Collazo to have the trustees elected by the membership rather than appointed by the president, as they are now. Collazo said the amendment would make the society more accountable to its members and make it more difficult for Burgos, past President Walter Alicea and former Vice President Henry Coira to orchestrate the group's support for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, as they have in the past.

Now a civilian, Alicea attended last week's society meeting and opposed the amendment, saying it would destroy the organization. Two years ago, in a fractious battle, he threw the society's mayoral election endorsement to Giuliani. During the campaign, Coira provided Giuliani with free private security from society members, one of whom was Collazo.

After his election, Giuliani appointed Alicea, then a third-grade detective with a base pay of $ 46,417, to the $ 87,600 position of deputy commissioner of community affairs. Coira, also a third-grade detective, was transferred to the intelligence division and served as a bodyguard in the mayoral security detail. Last October he was promoted to second-grade detective, with a base pay of $ 53,203. Two weeks later he was granted a leave of absence to become chief of staff to Housing Authority Chairman Ruben Franco, another Giuliani appointee, at a salary of $ 75,000.

On Coira's recommendation, four members of the Hispanic Society's executive board now serve on the mayor's security detail. Final approval of all selections is made by mayoral counsel Dennison Young. More Hispanic officers now protect the mayor than during any previous administration, Burgos and Coira said.

Burgos, meanwhile, serves in community affairs under Alicea.

As for Collazo, Burgos described him as a malcontent, saying he had not been selected into the mayor's detail. "He just wasn't chosen," she said. Coira said, "To be in the detail you have to be sensitive and have a high degree of loyalty and integrity."

It wasn't Collazo's amendment, Burgos said, but rather embarrassing behavior by other society members that got the borough trustees canned. Sylvia Montello, a Staten Island trustee, was one of the cops suspended without pay in the recent drunkenness at Point Pleasant, N.J. Robert Santana, the society's sergeant-at-arms and recording secretary, was charged last year with providing protection and information to drug dealers.

"I didn't address Santana quickly enough," Burgos said in an interview last week. "This time I will."

Meanwhile, the executive board vetoed Collazo's amendment and suspended him - without due process, and in violation of the society's constitution, he said.

"Your services as the Queens borough trustee in the Hispanic Society are no longer needed," Burgos wrote him June 21. "Upon conferral with the Executive Board we have unanimously agreed that your philosophy no longer coincides with ours."

I.Z. and IAB.
To cops in Borough Park's 66th Precinct, where a special relationship has long existed between them and the Hasidic Jewish community, one of the area's landmarks, Maimonides Medical Center, has a special name. For reasons no one seems to know for sure, cops there refer to it as "I.Z."

But I.Z. has another meaning to cops in the 66th Precinct, where last week a sergeant and patrolman were charged with receiving an unlawful gratuity - or, in police parlance, "a tip" - from three rabbis while providing them with special armed security during a religious procession. Some Hasidic community members apparently felt so contrite, they contributed to the cops' bail.

Every precinct has code words, known only to precinct members. In the 66th, the initials I.Z. are also part of a coded sentence. Whenever the words "Does anyone know the cross streets to I.Z.?" come over the cops' radios, 66th Precinct officers are alerted that undercover internal affairs bureau officers are nearby.

At the midnight hour.
At literally a second before midnight Friday, the city hired 1,940 new police officers. The hirings, processed through the night at Brooklyn College, were begun just before the fiscal year's end, June 30.

By waiting until the last possible moment, the city saves $ 15 million in pension contributions. The reason: By computing a cop's hourly salary and dividing it by 3,600 seconds, actuaries conclude that cops make less than half a cent a second. Therefore they get paid nothing for that second before midnight and the city doesn't have to contribute to their pension plans during this fiscal year.

Beset with difficulties since it was dismembered by Giuliani and his communications director, Cristyne Lategano, earlier this year, the NYPD's public information office has installed something new: voice mail.

"This measure is designed to increase our ability to respond to . . . inquiries during this time of re-structuring and training of our personnel," said Deputy Commissioner Tom Kelly. "By reducing the time spent on administrative and informational telephone calls, our staff will be better able to respond to . . . urgent calls for timely information."

©1995 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.