One Police Plaza

The Inside Story: Bratton's a Star

May 12, 2003

Bill Bratton, who transformed the job of NYPD's top gun into one of glamour and celebrity, has added another notch to his belt - sex symbol.

Just ask his latest wife.

Rikki Klieman, a former defense attorney turned Court TV commentator, has written an autobiography in which she does some heavy breathing over Boston Billy. And Klieman is not lacking in experience. Her book, "Fairy Tales Can Come True," recounts not only her career but her former husbands and lovers.

Bratton was in town last week from Los Angeles, where he is police chief, to celebrate the book's publication at - where else? - Elaine's, the Upper East Side literary joint where he hung out while New York City's police commissioner from 1994 to 1996.

He and Klieman were joined at Campagnola by Bratton's newest celebrity friend - Adrien Brody.

"He's just a wonderful kid," Bratton said.

Bratton and Brody met at an L.A. dinner party at the home of oil-turned-movie tycoon Marvin Davis, the former owner of 20th Century Fox. Shortly thereafter, Brody won his Oscar for "The Pianist."

"Rikki was out of town," Bratton said of the Davis dinner. "Halle Berry was a tablemate. Sidney Poitier and Oscar de la Renta were there.

"Adrien was with his mother. He's just a kid from Queens. He hasn't let any of it go to his head. You know, actors are a lot like cops. You have to start from the bottom and make it up the ladder on your own," Bratton said.

Now about that book, which tells the story of how after 28 years as a driven criminal attorney, Klieman found love and happiness at 49 with Bratton.

Their romance budded after they bumped into each other at the Regency a couple of years back.

"Bratton rose from his seat and kissed me on the cheek," Klieman wrote. "He smiled. 'You look so beautiful,' he said. 'If you were single, I'd marry you.'"

A few paragraphs later she says of him: "My hormones weren't just running; they were at a gallop. I was having adolescent sexual fantasies. I couldn't get him out of my head. I was 49 years old. This was preposterous."

And a few pages later, she writes: "The passion I felt for Bill was overwhelming. I had no choice. I was his in all ways ... I could not control myself ... "

As for Bratton, he is equally ardent. "Bill said, 'I'm not going to tell you I love you right now because once I do there is no turning back for me.'"

Will such passion start a trend for New York City police commissioners, as other of Bratton's actions have? Remember, he was the commissioner who began the weekly Compstat crime analysis meetings that have become a department staple.

He was also the first police commissioner in recent memory to author a book, a lower-keyed autobiography than his wife's. Subsequent commissioners followed, or tried to.

Howard Safir spent years peddling an autobiography. No one, however, was interested. He finally got someone to publish the more modest "Security," which comes out this summer and is subtitled "Policing Your Homeland, Your City."

Then there's Bernard Kerik who wrote "The Lost Son" about his prostitute mother, while getting himself into trouble for using one of his police assistants to research the circumstances of her death on company time and using Police Department photos of himself at the World Trade Center after the attack.

Kerik also turned up on the celebrity circuit with his - and Klieman's - publisher, the glamorous Judith Regan. When in a now-famous incident she lost her cell phone at Fox TV, homicide detectives were sent to question witnesses at their homes at 2 a.m.

Current commissioner Ray Kelly, meanwhile, is strictly business - police business, although he has been spotted having dinner at such East Side literary hot spots as Michael's Pub.

Newsday can now identify the rank of the police officer who fathered the controversial Demonstration Debriefing Form as an Intelligence Division lieutenant. Since Kelly has said the officer acted in good faith, we'll omit his name.

Police used the form to catalog the friends and political affiliations of anti-war protesters arrested at a March 22 demonstration.

Although Kelly has said neither he nor Deputy Commissioner David Cohen knew of it - Kelly discontinued the form after its disclosure by the New York Civil Liberties Union - he has not said whether he or Cohen approved of the questioning of arrestees about their affiliations.

This column posed that question to Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Michael O'Looney. He declined comment.

©2003 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.