One Police Plaza

Here’s the real subway crime

January 12, 1998

Even someone with a pea brain would be hard-pressed to accept Police Commissioner Howard Safir's story of the under-reporting of subway crime.

Safir dropped a bombshell last week, announcing that an internal audit revealed that subway crime has been underreported by 20 percent for the past three decades because of a systemic "flaw."

Some flaw.

Let's explain what really happened so that New Yorkers can begin to understand how the so-called "flaw" produced departmental charges against a deputy inspector; why an Internal Affairs investigation is continuing; or why Safir and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who knew about The Flaw last August, said nothing until last week.

We'll begin with Capt. Kim Foley - a name Safir never mentioned - who was transferred to Manhattan's Transit District One in midtown as executive officer in October, 1995. Four months later, Capt. Vincent DeMarino became District One's commanding officer. Despite official assurances about the "seamless" merger between Transit Police and the NYPD, the two forces remain separated by different mores and loyalties. Foley, like any NYPD officer, considered her assignment to Transit a flop. DeMarino, a transit veteran, viewed District One as Transit's crown jewel.

DeMarino was a favorite of Chief Kenneth Donahue of the Transportation Division, which oversees the Transit Bureau. Donahue, nicknamed "The Duke," personally escorted DeMarino around District One, located at Columbus Circle, pointing out who lived just across the street on Central Park West: two other Transit guys, then-commissioner Bill Bratton and his deputy Jack Maple.

From the outset, there was bad blood between Foley and DeMarino. Foley, who's had a troubled department history, says DeMarino kept her out of the Transit loop so he could pursue his dirty work.

In August, 1996, DeMarino was promoted to deputy inspector, supposedly for reducing District One's crime rate. The following May he was selected as the "presenter" for another of Safir's brainstorms - his COMPSTAT crime strategy conference at the Marriott Marquis that he threw open to the public with an admission fee, but barred Bratton.

Donahue, meanwhile, had become a favorite of Chief of Department Louis Anemone. Louie was so taken by The Duke that he regularly jumped him over others to act as chief of department when Anemone was away. When DeMarino was transferred to Brooklyn's 77th Precinct last July, Anemone showed up to welcome him.

Here things become murky. Department officials say someone then dropped a dime on DeMarino, saying he'd underreported his subway crime statistics. Many believe the dime was dropped by Foley.

Foley denies it but doesn't deny she represented District One at last August's COMPSTAT meeting at One Police Plaza. To prepare her crime stats, she began tallying the "hot sheets" or "61s" - the subway-related felony crimes from each police precinct within District One - to ensure the precinct numbers matched those of the district. She discovered that in the past month the 20th Precinct had reported 17 subway-related felonies. Only seven were reported in District One's computer.

Donahue assigned his second-in-command, Mike Scagnelli, another NYPD chief transferred into Transit, to investigate. Despite what she says was Donahue's harassment, Foley cooperated, producing a set of unreported 61s from DeMarino's drawer.

Meanwhile, someone tipped off the Daily News to the continuing investigation, which had spread beyond District One. The News attempted to obtain the subway crime stats. Safir and City Hall stone-walled, perhaps because of the impending mayoral election, and continued stonewalling until last week when they feared the News would break the story.

Foley, meanwhile, who lives in Rockland County, received some "highway therapy": a transfer (with a two-hour drive) to Brooklyn South.

Instead, from her home computer, she faxed all that had transpired to Safir and to First Deputy Patrick Kelleher. Her transfer was rescinded. She was reassigned to the Bronx.

Last month, Scagnelli was transferred to Manhattan South, although it was apparently he who bagged DeMarino. Last week, Safir explained his transfer, saying Transit needed "new blood." He said nothing of Donahue, other than he is in the hospital. (He's undergoing surgery.)

DeMarino was transferred to the Housing Bureau under the protective wing, at least for now, of his former Brooklyn chief, Joe Dunne.

As for Foley, her first Bronx assignment was to the 40th Precinct, her second to the 45th. Last week she was transferred again, to the Borough Command, her third assignment in as many months. Her new hours: steady midnights.

©1998 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.