One Police Plaza

Top cops: how many freebies?

March 18, 1996

Now that Mayor Rudolph Giuliani says he's investigating Police Commissioner William Bratton's freebie weekend with his millionaire so-called friend Henry Kravis, he may want to open the lid on that Pandora's box a little wider.

The mayor may want to ask his schnorring commissioner how many freebie weekends he's enjoyed out in the Hamptons, courtesy of other rich so-called friends.

The mayor may want to ask a top Manhattan detective commander how many free lunches he enjoys each week with wealthy businessmen.

Or the mayor may want to examine police functions where top brass are comped, such as The Finest Foundation's annual "Chief's Night" aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid, or last month's Police Foundation dinner, where 65 of the 72 police officials attended on the arm.

Scheduled for the auditorium of One Police Plaza, the black-tie affair was moved to the grand foyer of 55 Wall Street after the auditorium roof sprung a leak. Its 730 corporate guests paid from $400 to $1,000 for a ticket, which provided them with a roast-beef dinner, globs of shrimp scampi and the opportunity to rub up against such dignitaries as Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple, who received the Chuck Barris award (whatever that is) named after a Foundation board member and television producer of something called The Gong Show.

Of department members who attended, says Foundation executive director Pam Delaney, nine such as Maple were award winners - therefore, the Foundation paid for the tickets. Thirty-six others, mostly chiefs and inspectors, were comped by corporations or wealthy individuals. (The Foundation also pays for the current commissioner and all prior commissioners.) Twenty others were guests of the Foundation, filling in for last-minute no-shows.

Delaney refused to name the seven police officials who actually paid for themselves. "They're nobody you'd know, some assistant commissioners, some lieutenants, some detectives - no chiefs."

Ghostwatch. While corporation counsel Paul Crotty examines the ethics of the $350,000 autobiography of "the most significant law-enforcment leader of our time and perhaps the 20th century," as Bratton's lawyer refers to the commissioner, here are some questions Crotty probably won't ask him, although perhaps his ghostwriter will.

1. Where were you the night of the subway crash in Union Square in 1991 in which five people died?

2. Did the battery in your beeper really die so you couldn't be reached, or are the Hamptons beyond beeper range?

3. What was the real reason you fired Walter Mack as Deputy Commissioner for Internal Affairs?

4. Who was Mike McAlary's source in the Prospect Park rape case?

Beware. Before Gov. George Pataki makes too much political hay over the reluctance of Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson to seek the death penalty in the shooting death of Police Officer Kevin Gillespie, his criminal-justice coordinator, Paul Schechtman, might remind him of the case of Frederico Pereira in Queens and the dangers of an overly aggressive and vindictive prosecutor.

Pereira died Feb. 5, 1991, of a combination of cocaine intoxication and a police chokehold after cops discovered him asleep in a stolen car. Pereira supposedly resisted their attempts to arrest him.

Queens District Attorney John Santucci, who had feuded with the NYPD for years, decided as his last act before resigning inexplicably in mid-term, to indict five cops for his murder. There being no death penalty then, the cops, if convicted, would have received maximum sentences of 25 years to life.

Santucci's executive assistant, Phil Foglia, argued at the time that Santucci had improperly overcharged the cops. In June, in his first act in office, Santucci's succesor, former Appellate Judge Richard Brown, dismissed all charges against four of them and reduced the murder charge to manslaughter against the fifth, who was later acquitted at trial.

Pros. Their pettiness and jealousies notwithstanding, people who saw the mayor and police commissioner come together following the shooting death of police officer Kevin Gillespie say both conducted themselves with the restraint and dignity that makes each of them a pro.

The two were seated together for hours in an anteroom of St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, where Gillespie had been rushed and where the department's top brass had assembled, waiting for his family to arrive.

"To see them together, it's hard to believe what they really think of each other," said an official there. "At least for the moment, they appear to have gotten past their differences."

©1996 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.