One Police Plaza

It’s Giuliani’s way, or no way

July 19, 1999

For reasons known only to him and his maker, Zachary Carter believed he could negotiate secretly with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to resolve the Police Department's brutality issue.

Memo from your humble servant to Carter, who retired Friday as United States Attorney for the Eastern District, and to his expected successor, Loretta Lynch: You can't negotiate with Giuliani. There is only one way - Giuliani's way. Disagree with him and you are acting in bad faith.

Contrary to what some expected him to do, Carter left office without issuing a statement about an impending accord with Giuliani in the next 30 days. Lynch can only hope that the threat of a federal lawsuit will compel Giuliani to consent to what many in law enforcement believe to be the best solution to the department's mishandling of substantiated brutality complaints - an independent outside monitor. (Just imagine Rudy's humiliation if his police department is placed in the hands of a federal receiver. One can already hear him bleating he is "victim" of a Hillary Clinton-inspired White House campaign.)

Years ago as a federal prosecutor, Giuliani favored such a monitor. Now as mayor, he says that "under no circumstances" would he accept one, adding last week that the issue has never been discussed with the U.S. Attorney's office. Either Carter's negotiator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Kornfeld, isn't up to the task of negotiating with Giuliani's corporation counsel, or the mayor's nose is approaching the size of Pinnochio's.

Because Carter hasn't informed the public of his findings, most New Yorkers are unaware of the enormity of what is at stake here. (And this could be just the beginning. Southern District prosecutors may soon weigh in with their findings about the street crime unit's questionable stop-and-frisks of black New Yorkers.) Eighteen months ago, following Abner Louima's sodomization in the bathroom of the 70th Precinct stationhouse, Kornfeld began investigating why so many cops with excessive force complaints that were substantiated by the city's independent Civilian Complaint Review Board were never disciplined by the Police Department.

According to the testimony of Norman Siegel of the New York Civil Liberties Union before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in May, the NYPD acted on substantiated CCRB complaints involving 635 cops between January, 1996 and July, 1998. No disciplinary action was imposed in 447 of those cases. Siegel says Police Commissioner Howard Safir sat on some of them for months or years. Police spokeswoman Marilyn Mode declined to comment.

In the last six months of 1998, however, as Kornfeld's investigation heated up, Safir acted on substantiated CCRB cases against 219 officers, disciplining 128 of them, or 58 percent. "This shows a substantial change," Siegel says, "which only proves that the system works if people pay attention to it."

Giuliani cites as his defense the city's falling crime rate and casts himself as a defender of the department against "police bashers." The issue, however, is not the men and women in blue. Rather, it is a failure of management at the department's top levels - specifically of the police commissioner, his first deputy Patrick Kelleher, who supervises the disciplinary process, and of Giuliani himself.

It's Official. Retired Bronx supervising judge, former Bronx district attorney and "Recognized New York City Treasure" Burton Roberts will at the age of 77 represent his first criminal defendant. Roberts has officially replaced Marvyn (The Flamboyant One) Kornberg as attorney for Sean Carroll, one of the four officers accused of fatally shooting at Amadou Diallo 41 times.

Co-counsel will be John Patten - who obtained an acquittal for Sgt. Michael Bellomo in the Louima trial. How will Roberts courtroom presence affect Bronx District Attorney Rob Johnson, who indicted Carroll and the three other cops on murder charges and to whom Roberts has served as something of a mentor? * * *

Seen (at Joe Dunne's swearing-in ceremony replacing Louis Anemone as Chief of Department at One Police Plaza on Thursday):

One: Dunne receiving a standing ovation from many blacks in the audience.

Two: Giuliani giving a bear hug to a stunned Anemone, who was a guest of honor.

Three: Anemone giving a desultory handshake to Safir (who had pushed him into retirement) as Louie looked away.

Four: Former first deputy Tosano Simonetti, another guest of honor, refusing to comment on his heart condition. Tony the Tiger - who directs billionaire Ronald Perelman's security at a six-figure salary - suffers from such severe heart problems that the department in 1997 awarded him a line-of-duty $100,000-a-year, tax-free disability pension.

©1999 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.