One Police Plaza

What passes for intelligence

October 15, 2004

If the NYPD's Intelligence Division is the only thing standing between New Yorkers and al-Qaida, as Police Commissioner Ray Kelly suggests, maybe Kelly should explain why its third-ranking official is suddenly leaving.

Until last month, Inspector Kevin Perham was Intel's executive officer. He traveled the world supervising detectives in Kelly's overseas spy service, which he founded to compete with the FBI. Officially, Perham is on vacation.

After his last assignment, at the Republican National Convention, where he rode his bicycle for five hours, pursuing "Critical Mass" demonstrators, Perham asked Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen for a month off to handle a family matter.

Cohen told Perham he was being replaced.

Perham is regarded as a top investigator. Before Intel, he served as commanding officer of Manhattan North detectives, the Crime Scene Unit and the 75th Precinct. The knock on him, says a chief, is that he can be "snippy."

So apparently top secret was his role at Intel that the department's Office of Public Information said it could obtain neither the date he joined the department nor the date of his promotion to inspector. (He joined on Jan. 26, 1981 and was promoted to inspector on April 25, 2003.)

Perham is said to be close to Chief of Department Joe Esposito. That Esposito did not intervene or was circumvented by Cohen, as some say, is another indication that the department's top uniformed officer has become a secondary player and that Kelly's team is comprised solely of civilians like Cohen, who was recruited from the CIA.

Do the right thing. The NYPD is "looking into" the circumstances of why Aaron Wong of Staten Island was arrested after retired cop James Mangone broke his jaw; why Wong's girlfriend, Brooke Lopez, who called 911 during the attack, was never interviewed by police at the scene; and why Wong was not taken immediately to the hospital, as the Patrol Guide states he should have been, but to a jail cell in the 120th Precinct.

Disconnect. When business execs are caught providing freebies to government employees, it's usually the government employees who get canned while the execs skate. But that's not how it works in New York City these days.

Three Verizon managers were recently dismissed after providing free dinners and golf outings to mid-level police brass involved in a pending telecommunications contract.

Jack Hoey, a Verizon spokesman, said, "Verizon holds its employees to the highest ethical standards, as spelled out in our code. When employees violate those standards, the company takes appropriate disciplinary action, which can [include] and in the past has included dismissal."

The NYPD also has a code. It's called the Patrol Guide. Cops are not supposed to accept even a free cup of coffee.

The department refuses all comment, and it is supposedly conducting an investigation with the Department of Investigation, the city agency that insulates the mayor.

Don't fret for Eddie. Former deputy commissioner Ed Norris may be doing 6 months in the can for misappropriating $20,000 from a secret police fund in Baltimore, where he was commissioner after leaving the NYPD, but he still has friends in New York.

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, whose former chief of staff was retired NYPD captain Ed Norris Sr., recently threw a fund-raiser to help pay Norris' legal bills.

"Betsy doesn't wish to comment," said her spokesman Jim Vlasto, "but wishes him well."

No broken windows, but ... The "broken windows" theory, which was the intellectual linchpin of the city's dramatic crime reductions under Rudolph Giuliani and Bill Bratton, held that if minor crimes were not addressed, major ones would follow.

At One Police Plaza, one of its six elevators is under repair through 2006. Its first-floor escalator is often out of order. The two revolving doors to the plaza don't work and the push-button handicap entrance doesn't function.

But there are no broken windows.

Staff writer Sean Gardiner contributed to this column.

©2004 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.