In your face
When Mitzi Grasso (right) took office as head of the Los Angeles Police Protective League — the first female to lead the union in its 78-year history — some observers promptly contrasted her with the “in your face” styles of her predecessors. However, as the year progressed, Police Chief Bernard Parks, for one, found that Grasso offered no vacation from confrontation.
A 14-year veteran of the force who had been a full-time director of the union for four years, Grasso was viewed as one who tends to see the big picture. Advocates for female officers were cautiously optimistic about Grasso’s willingness to place greater emphasis on the recruitment, hiring and training of women, who make up about 18 percent of the LAPD. Grasso said she does not consider herself a feminist per se, but stressed her commitment to addressing issues that will affect women as well as the entire PPL membership.
While she has already seen the union through some victories, including the City Council’s recent approval of flex schedules for the department, there have also been some rough spots in her short tenure. She claimed that a recent investigation into her husband, Michael, a decorated LAPD officer, was in retaliation for personal differences between her and Parks. Michael Grasso had been suspended for three days for using a firearm during a training exercise. Throughout much of the year, Grasso and the PPL have been unstinting in their criticism of Parks and his leadership, demanding that he either resign or be replaced when his five-year term is up for renewal this spring.
Conway, his way
It was Randall Aragon’s experience as a police manager, coupled with his “dynamic personality,” that led to his appointment as new police chief of Conway, Ark., according to Mayor Tab Townsell. Aragon (left) replaced Jerry Snowden, who resigned abruptly in June 2000, just two weeks after the mayor began investigating an allegation that Snowden had used a municipal work crew to build furniture for his deer camp.
Aragon, who served for 16 years as chief of three North Carolina departments, left policing altogether in early 2000 to care for his ailing mother. But even before his Jan. 8 swearing-in in Conway, he was hard at work fine-tuning a four-part program to overhaul a department fraught with dissension and battered by lawsuits.
The first part of the program involved dealing with personnel issues and morale problems that arose from a practice of allowing “nonproductive or incompetent employees the opportunity to flout application of appropriate remedial action,” thereby allowing a “good old boy system” to thrive. He also noted specifically that the department’s community-policing personnel were not working up to their full potential.
His proposed program went on to include making a list of recommendations to the mayor on how productivity can be enhanced, implementing those changes, and then refining them.
A new era
“‘It can’t happen here’ will be banished forever from our vocabulary,” Jane Perlov (right) commented just days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, when she was sworn in as Raleigh, N. C.’s first female police chief. Perlov, 44, who had led the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety for three years, said that one of her first orders of business would be to conduct security assessments in the North Carolina capital.
Perlov rose through the ranks of the New York City Police Department, which she left in 1998 as Bronx borough commander with the rank of deputy chief. In the Massachusetts cabinet position, she oversaw a $1-billion budget and 10,000 employees in 22 state agencies and commissions.
Leaps & Bounds
Mary Bounds took the oath of office in August to become Cleveland’s first female police chief, and the second African American to lead the force. Although a political appointee of Mayor Michael R. White, local black leaders were trying to ensure that a new mayor does not demote her, but there were no guarantees.
Mayor White made himself very unpopular when he opened an investigation into allegations that organized cells of racists were operating within the police ranks. The charges proved groundless, but it damaged the mayor’s rapport with the force. Bob Beck, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association, said that it was useless to debate qualifications of any chief as “Mike White is now and always has been the chief of police.”
Bounds’ professional relationship with White may have tarnished her in the eyes of the rank and file, but she emphatically rejects implications that it was politics and not hard work that got her the post.
The chief’s future is unsure, however, because Jane Campbell won the mayoral race in November. Campbell has promised voters that she would review Bounds and other city administrators before making any decision on retaining her.
Michael Berkow, 46, stepped down as police chief of South Pasadena, Calif., to assume command in Irvine. He was selected after a nationwide search to replace Police Chief Charles Brobeck, in a changing of the guard that took place on Aug. 13.
Berkow (right) had been hired to run the 34-officer South Pasadena force in 1997 in the aftermath of a sex scandal there and an FBI probe into allegations that an officer’s involvement in a hit-and-run was covered up by authorities. The Irvine department has 170 sworn officers.
A former lawyer who worked for the Justice Department, Berkow has taken on assignments around the world, helping to rebuild the police force in Somalia and restore order in Haiti. He is also credited with implementing community policing along geographical lines, an approach he is expected to bring to Irvine — a city, he says, that offers a “real complexity of issues,” and an opportunity to do “some special kinds of policing.”
When he started, he asked every employee, both sworn and civilian, to send him a résumé along with a list of three things they love about the agency, three things they hate, and one that they would change immediately. “I got notebooks full of really wonderful, well thought out, passionate letters which, first of all, gave me a very warm welcome,” he said. “It also gave me a flavor for the culture of the organization and the issues that exist.”
Outside, looking in
Two court settlements on opposite sides of the country led to outside oversight of troubled police departments. In an agreement between the California Attorney General’s office and Riverside officials, Joseph Brann was named to oversee the reforms of the Riverside Police Department. The settlement had its roots in the shooting death of a black woman, Tyisha Miller, by four white police officers in December 1998. Questions of racism were raised after police were found to have made inappropriate comments following her death.
Brann, 53, served as director of the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services from 1994 to 1999. In 1998, Law Enforcement News named him as one of its People of the Year for his work in creating 311, the national non-emergency public safety telephone number.
Brann will provide regular reports evaluating the plans and procedures developed by the Riverside department to meet the goals of a five-year reform agreement. Brann told The Riverside Press-Enterprise that he was there on behalf of the attorney general but that he was a resource to the police department. “My role is both to monitor what is going on and help facilitate the change.”
Three thousand miles away, a federal judge tapped Stamford, Conn. Police Chief Dean Esserman (right) to monitor the Wallkill, N.Y., Police Department, which state prosecutors have alleged is out of control. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer charged that officers in the town harassed and intimidated residents for sport, including several women who say they were followed and propositioned by officers.
Since his appointment, Esserman has resigned from the Stamford Police Department to take a private-sector position with the firm of Thacher Associates, which was recently selected to oversee the companies involved in the cleanup efforts at the site of the World Trade Center collapse. He plans to stay on as monitor of the Wallkill department.
Jackson, Wyo., Police Chief Dave Cameron, 55, died on April 28 in a farm accident when a tractor tipped over on him. His funeral, which was attended by police officers from several states, included a 21-gun salute and a riderless horse with empty boots in the stirrups that was led through the town’s streets, as hundreds looked on in tribute. The Rev. Paul Hayden said that Cameron (left) “was happiest when he was riding on his horse and being in the Town Square, touching and talking to the people he cared about most.”
Leaving on a high note
“Right now, I may be naive, but the city seems pretty stable,” said Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Police Chief Michael Brasfield. He added, “I’ve seen so many chiefs in the last three-some years who are forced out or appear to be forced out.” Brasfield decided to leave on a high note.
He retired in September after leading his department for six years. In a letter to City Manager Floyd T. Johnson, Brasfield recalled that when he first took command, he was greeted by an editorial stating that the agency was among the most trouble-plagued and controversial in the nation. “Nevertheless,” he wrote, “I came to recognize that the department consisted of an outstanding group of dedicated and exceptional people.”
He was credited by Johnson and Mayor Jim Naugle with reducing Fort Lauderdale’s crime rate by 17 percent in 2000 from the previous year. City officials also applauded his efforts to diversify the force through the promotion of female and minority officers, and one of his first acts as chief in 1996 was to fire an officer who participated in a racist skit. He also noted that two three-year labor contracts have been “equitably negotiated and implemented.”
Overall, Brasfield scored high as chief, although his tenure was not without its low points, among them the murder of Officer Bryan Peney in 1996 and a $210,000 settlement made to a man shown being beaten by police on videotape in 1997. That same year, his wife, Nancy, died of lung cancer.
As soon as a successor was named, Brasfield planned to return to the Pacific Northwest with his family, to a cabin that he had been fixing up in the Seattle area.
Small, but growing
In March, Jed Dolnick, 45, assumed command of the Jackson, Wis., Police Department, replacing Chief Peter Habel, who had announced his intention last year to step down. The former Washington County sheriff’s lieutenant was not a complete stranger to the job, having served for nine months as the interim chief in 1995.
Still, there were adjustments to be made. He told Law Enforcement News that his first few days on the job were spent trying to make the transition from a sheriff’s department with more than 100 employees to an agency with eight officers, a sergeant and a chief.
Dolnick said he has long wanted to be the chief of a small town, but Jackson may not always deserve that label. The town’s population has grown by 98 percent over the past decade, making it the fastest growing community in the county. “It’s still a small town,” he said, “but it’s also exciting because it’s a town that’s not stagnant, it’s growing, and that presents a lot of challenges in the area of community policing and law enforcement.”
For a small town, however, finding a police chief had been no small matter. Dolnick had stepped in the first time after Frank Standish was suspended for official misconduct and sexual harassment, and later fired.
The village later combined the positions of police chief and fire chief into the post of public safety director. Don Rosenbauer, who held the position until his retirement in 2000, recommended the two posts be split up again. Habel, a former sergeant with the Milwaukee Police Department, was sworn is as chief in April 2000. After only six months, he told the village board that he was quitting, having wrongly expected that the job in Jackson would give him more time to spend with his family.
In mid-June, Charleston, S.C., police Sgt. Ray Patterson saw a television segment about Ray Sloan, a 9-year-old Texas boy who had been battling cancer for a year and was not expected to live through the week. While undergoing treatment, the boy had befriended a Great Dane in a therapy program and had desperately wanted one of the dogs ever since.
The Sloan family had been in touch with a woman in Summerville, S. C., who runs a Great Dane rescue operation. She had the perfect dog for the boy — a gentle 2-year-old named Winnie — but the problem lay in getting the dog to Texas.
On June 21, with the permission of Police Chief Reuben Greenberg, Patterson and officers George Bradley and Robert Forsythe hit the road in a department-issue Chevy Suburban. Despite fears that they wouldn’t get there in time, the three drove through 1,200 miles of traffic, storms and a chemical spill and arrived in Texas just 17 hours later, to find Ray awake and waiting for them. Said Patterson: “He was in a chair, and he couldn’t even lift his arm up, but his face just lit right up when he saw Winnie. I don’t care how big and bad you are, when you see that…it just tore me up.”
After a few hours sleep and breakfast with the Sloan family, the officers headed back home to be ready for another shift.
Ray Sloan died on July 9. Winnie has since been adopted by Ray’s 18-year-old sister, Heather.
Law enforcement lost two of its female trailblazers with the deaths of Felicia Shpritzer, formerly of the New York City Police Department, and Madeleine H. Baker, formerly of the Columbus, Ohio Police Division.
Shpritzer, 87, who died on Dec. 26, 2000, joined the New York police force in 1942, and spent 17 years in the Juvenile Aid Bureau. She took the city to court in 1961, when she and five other women were denied a shot at the sergeant’s exam. She claimed that blocking her attempt to become a sergeant was “discriminatory, archaic and illegal,” and two years later, the state’s highest court agreed with her.
Shpritzer and Gertrude Shimmel were the only two out of 126 policewomen who passed the four-hour promotional test in 1964. When they earned their stripes, Commissioner Michael Murphy, who had previously opposed the suit, claiming that women lack the physical endurance required of a police sergeant, said, “We welcome them and wish them well.”
Baker, 84, died on May 15, 2001. When she joined the Columbus police force in 1946, women weren’t permitted to carry guns or wear uniforms. Like Shpritzer, and like many women in law enforcement at the time, she was assigned a desk job in the juvenile bureau. In 1953, she transferred to the homicide squad. Baker ultimately proved herself and became the police division’s first female detective. She remained in the homicide squad until her retirement in 1972.
Some officers in Lakewood, Colo., have known no other boss than Charles Johnston, who became the city’s police chief in 1980. They’ll now have to get used to another face in the chief’s office, after former Tempe, Ariz., chief Ronald Burns (left) was chosen to succeed Johnston, who retired last January after 30 years with the department.
In 1996, Good Housekeeping magazine named the Lakewood Police Department as one of the eight best suburban forces in the United States. At that time, one out of every 10 Lakewood officers went on to become a chief or sheriff somewhere in the United States.
Burns, who started on Dec. 3, told The Rocky Mountain News that his first order of business “will be assessing where the police department is going to go and how we can better serve the community.”
Out of uniform
Not just another Los Angeles cop, Ginger Harrison, aka “The Arresting Officer,” was the subject of a six-page nude pictorial in Playboy in June. While her photo spread may have won her admiring glances, she did not win any kudos from the LAPD’s top brass.
Chief Bernard C. Parks said that officials were getting a lot of angry feedback, from female officers in particular. He told The Los Angeles Daily News that he had received calls, e-mails, and letters, most of them negative, about Harrison’s conduct.
Ironically, it was the more modest of the photos that appear to have gotten her into the most trouble, as Parks had reportedly conferred with a city attorney to look into whether her appearance in uniform utilized LAPD equipment. Harrison’s husband, Michael, a lawyer and sports agent, said that he respected the department’s decision to investigate but did not believe his wife did anything wrong: “I didn’t anticipate in this day and age...that this would be an issue. But after the LAPD makes their decision, we will sit very carefully and analyze it and decide...if anything needs to be done.”
The curious can see photos of Ginger — with her clothes on — at www.gingerharrison.com.
Going out in style
Legend has it that he once borrowed $20,000 from a loan company and splurged all of it on a stay at New York’s Plaza Hotel. He also sketched out the core components of the city’s crime-reduction plan on a cocktail napkin at Elaine’s, the trendy Manhattan watering hole.
Those were just a few of the colorful stories told at the funeral of Jack Maple (left) in August, where the self-proclaimed “crookologist” was buried in his trademark double-breasted pin-striped suit, spectator shoes, spats and hand-knotted bow tie, with his homburg and cigar at his side.
Maple, 48, who died on Aug. 4 from colon cancer, was a Queens-born transit police officer whom Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said went on to become “nothing less than a nationally, internationally, recognized icon — the cop who cleaned up New York.” It was Maple, many agree, who deserves the credit for developing the highly successful, oft-replicated Compstat process.
Compstat, which Maple compared to Britain’s use of radar against Nazi bombers, was the concept that revolutionized crime fighting during the mid-1990s by allowing police to act, instead of just react.
Maple and former Police Commissioner William J. Bratton first met in 1990 when Bratton was named chief of the New York Transit Police. At age 27, Maple had become the New York Transit Police’s youngest investigator after achieving notoriety for chasing subway-crime suspects above ground. His official rank was lieutenant when Bratton appointed him deputy commissioner. “He vowed to work up the career ladder until he had more bullies under him than over him,” said Bratton, who called Maple the smartest man on crime matters he had ever met.
After leaving the NYPD out of loyalty when Bratton left, Maple and John Linder, who had served as a private consultant to the commissioner, formed the Linder Maple Group, which spread the Compstat process to law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
In the end, it was his “commanding presence” that won William P. McManus the top police job in Dayton, beating out two other candidates. “It was a very, very difficult choice for us,” said City Manager Valerie Lemmie, adding that in addition to McManus’s presence, her staff felt he could best deal with city officials, police officers and community groups.
McManus, 49, an assistant chief with the Washington, D. C., Metropolitan Police Department, assumes command of the 500-member Dayton force in January 2002. A 26-year police veteran who attended Villanova University on a football scholarship, he joined the Washington police force in 1975, and went on to earn a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. When Charles Ramsey became Washington’s top cop in 1998, he promptly made McManus assistant chief.
Calling his new department nearly “lily-white,” McManus said that at the top of his agenda will be increasing the number of minority officers from its current level of about 10 percent.
Anchorage, Alaska, police Lieut. Walter C. Monegan, a 27-year-veteran, leaped over half a dozen other candidates for the spot of chief in January, including the deputy chief and a captain.
Everything’s bigger in Texas
Arlington, Texas, Police Officer Ronnie Coleman celebrates after winning his fourth consecutive Mr. Olympia bodybuilding title on Oct. 27 in Las Vegas. The 37-year-old Coleman, who normally packs 315 pounds onto his 5-foot, 11-inch frame, trims down to 280 pounds for competitions like the Mr. Olympia, which is considered the most prestigious title in professional bodybuilding. (Reuters)
Monegan is well liked by the agency’s rank-and-file, who were early backers of his selection. Officers see him as an “alternative cop” because he thinks of different ways of solving problems.
The early support for the new chief contrasted starkly with the discord that followed the selection four years ago of Duane Udland. Considered by some to be a cold-hearted autocrat whose tenure was marked by morale problems and controversy, Udland announced in December 2000 that he was stepping down.
Monegan said that he plans to look into the re-establishment of certain specialized detective units, as well as alternative work schedules, such as a three-day, 12-hour format.
Vines cut down
It took 21 years for Mack Vines (right) to make a comeback as police chief of St. Petersburg, Fla., replacing the city’s first African American chief, Goliath Davis III. It took less than 10 weeks for Vines to be unceremoniously sacked from the job, for remarks that some construed as racially insensitive.
Davis, who was appointed chief in 1997 by then-mayor David Fischer, retired from the department to become the city’s deputy mayor for midtown economic development. Mayor Rick Baker selected Vines to replace him, saying it was “a gut decision,” based on Vines having “the experience, background, knowledge and temperament” for the chief’s job. Vines had been St. Petersburg’s police chief from 1974 to 1980, before moving on to other police chief positions in Charlotte, N.C., Cape Coral, Fla., and Dallas.
Although popular in some quarters, Davis’s tenure was not without controversy. He was roundly criticized for rejecting a federal anti-drug grant, and again when he fired an officer for grabbing a suspect by the shirt, and disciplined the officer’s sergeant. He contends, however, that his approach was vindicated by statistics—crime is down, as are the number of complaints against sworn personnel.
Vines, in his first stint as St. Petersburg’s chief, helped ease the department’s poor relationship with the city’s black community by getting residents more involved with the agency and promoting more minorities. Before community policing was a catch-phrase on the lips of every police chief in the country, he was implementing team policing, funded by a federal grant.
It was while talking to a group of about 50 detectives at a police station that Vines made the remarks that cost him his job, referring to a suspect acting like “an orangutan.” While he rejected suggestions that he did anything wrong, Vines apologized for offending anyone and insisted that his use of the word was taken out of context. The mayor acted quickly to quell any community uproar, however, by firing Vines without cause and naming Chuck Harmon, a 20-year veteran who was assistant chief of patrol, as the new chief. Harmon already has his own problems. His detractors view him as a by-the-book, nit-picking administrator, and the police union is considering a no-confidence vote against him.
Considered to be among the best policing has to offer, Philadelphia Police Commissioner John F. Timoney said goodbye to public service in December and joined the ranks of the private sector.
Timoney, 53, joined Bo Dietl & Associates, a New York City-based security firm that handles corporate clients. The loss of Timoney to the profession is devastating, said Dr. Lawrence W. Sherman, a criminologist and director of the Fels Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “He is the best police executive this country’s seen for a long time,” he told The Associated Press.
While Timoney (left) began his tenure in Philadelphia in 1998 as an outsider, he quickly won over city officials and residents with his no-nonsense style. An annual survey by the mayor’s office found citizen satisfaction with police protection to have risen from 46 percent in 1997 to 59 percent in 2001. Said former mayor Edward G. Rendell, who recruited Timoney from the New York City Police Department: “He represents everything that a police commissioner should be. He is a creative and innovative thinker who…helped make the city safer.”
Timoney served as first deputy commissioner in the NYPD and brought to Philadelphia such crime-fighting strategies as Compstat. He redesigned the agency’s hierarchy to put more investigators in charge and launched Operation Sunrise, a program that targeted drug activity in high-crime neighborhoods.
Although he made inroads in reducing Philadelphia’s property crimes, Timoney was unable to do the same with the city’s homicide rate, which rose from 296 in 1999 to 319 in 2000. The department also drew national attention that year with a videotape of officers beating a suspected carjacker. A grand jury called for the tightening of police procedures, but recommended not charging the sworn personnel involved in the incident.
Still, observers noted that Timoney was able to avoid the trap into which many police executives fall. Instead of being blamed for everything that 7,000 other people do, or might do, wrong, said Sherman, Timoney “had gotten this community to support him in his effort to deal with its problems.”
That might be because Timoney often seemed to be everywhere at once. On his last New Year’s Eve as commissioner, he chased down a man suspected of firing a gun into the air at midnight. Timoney and two officers searched for the man and found the suspect hiding in an abandoned building. It was later discovered he was wanted for attempted murder.
Timoney considered the Republican National Convention in August 2000 as one of the high points of his tenure. More than 400 arrests were made, but no protesters were injured. “We said we wouldn’t use tear gas or rubber bullets, and we didn’t,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Sylvester Johnson will serve as interim commissioner until a permanent replacement is named.
Detroit Police Chief Benny Napoleon announced his retirement in May in the wake of Mayor Dennis Archer’s decision not to seek reelection. “I’m not running away from anybody or anything,” said Napoleon, a 26-year veteran, even though the previous fall Archer had requested that the Justice Department investigate the police department and claims of prisoner maltreatment, misuse of deadly force and other alleged misconduct.
Ten days after Napoleon’s announcement, a panel that he had hand-picked slammed the department in a 26-page report that recommended the use of video and satellite-tracking equipment to keep tabs on patrol vehicles, and better training for officers.
Although he could point to a three-year tenure during which overall crime dropped 30 percent, and robberies were down by 42 percent, there have been serious problems dogging the agency. The use of lethal force by officers led to the city’s having one of the highest rates of fatal police shootings of any major city in the country during the 1990s. Since 1997, lawsuits against the department have cost Detroit nearly $46 million.
Napoleon, who holds a law degree, said he planned to take a job in the private sector.
The incident that cost Lee County, Miss., Sheriff Harold Lee Presley his life on July 6 began when a fugitive, Billy Stone, sped past a roadblock set up by the sheriff’s department to look for drugs and drunken drivers. When officers gave pursuit, Stone pushed a naked, bound woman out of his pickup truck. After wrecking his vehicle, he fled on foot. Several hours later, in Auburn, retired Tupelo police officer Bobby Norris called authorities because of barking dogs.
Presley, Norris and a deputy, Jack Tate, approached the utility shed that the dogs had surrounded and opened the door. Stone began shooting. Chief Deputy Steve Brooks said that the sheriff pushed Tate out of the way and returned fire. Presley and Stone were both killed in the gunfight, and Norris was wounded.
In his Tupelo office, Presley, 52, had covered the walls with photographs of his friends and families, many of them of his first cousin once removed — Elvis. Deputies said they would know when their boss was in the building because he would pipe “Jailhouse Rock” or other hits by the King through the public address system.
Presley first took office in 1993 and handily won reelection twice. Three years ago, he was presented with the Buford Pusser Award for outstanding law enforcement work — an award named for the Tennessee sheriff who died fighting organized crime. In November, the late sheriff’s brother, former Tupelo officer Larry Presley, won election as sheriff, defeating Brooks.
Many people were caught off guard when Elkhart, Ind., Police Chief Larry Kasa announced during a shift change that he and his second-in-command, assistant chief Pam Westlake, were reversing their roles. Westlake, a 25-year law enforcement veteran, said that she was as taken aback as anyone by Mayor Dave Miller’s decision. She then promptly chose Kasa as her assistant chief.
Miller said the decision to move Kasa out of the top spot was his. He described the former chief as a harbor pilot who had brought the ship into port and back out to sea. Westlake, he said, was ready for the open water.
Believed to be the only woman to hold the rank of chief in the state, Westlake told LEN that a key goal of her administration will be to begin bringing less experienced officers up through the ranks to fill executive positions. “We haven’t done a real good job over the past two years,” she said.
Although comparatively brief, the 15-month tenure of Bernard Kerik as New York City’s police commissioner managed to include one of the nation’s worst tragedies and the police department’s most shining hours.
Kerik, 46, made his resignation official on Nov. 9. “I have to look at what I have done throughout my life and what I have been through in the last eight years, most importantly the last year, and the last eight weeks,” he said. “I think you have to set priorities in your life, and my priorities right now are focused toward my family and the future.”
While he built on the innovations of former commissioners William J. Bratton and Howard Safir, Kerik (right) was able to reduce crime even further by creating a central clearinghouse for intelligence data and expanding the NYPD’s fugitive squad. In the first 10 months of 2001, crime fell by 13 percent over the same period one year earlier. Able to connect with the city’s minority community in a way that seemed to elude his predecessor, Kerik has also received high marks from many in repairing some of those bridges damaged by high-profile incidents like the Amadou Diallo shooting and the Abner Louima torture case.
Dennis M. Walcott, president of the New York Urban League, said of Kerik: “He has developed a sense of confidence among those communities that had detached from the department. He was very blunt, but respectful, and quickly put plans in place to address whatever their concerns were.”
Kerik, a former NYPD undercover narcotics officer and a bodyguard for Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani during his 1993 campaign, was named the city’s correction commissioner in 1997. While he may explore the possibility of setting up his own private security consulting firm, Kerik said he would first take some time off to spend with his family. Recently informed by his wife that their daughter had taken her first steps, Kerik said he learned that the landmark event had actually happened days before when he was not home.
Succeeding Kerik will be Raymond W. Kelly (left), who served as the city’s police commissioner during the tenure of Mayor David Dinkins. A 23-year veteran of the department who went on to work for the Clinton administration as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for enforcement and then head of the Customs Service, Kelly was lured back from a private-sector position at Bear Stearns by Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg.
Kelly, 60, whose early stint as commissioner lasted 14 months, led the department during the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. “He was police commissioner before,” said Bloomberg. “He went on to Washington, where he did a spectacular job.”
The first World Law Enforcement Skills Championship, held as part of the American Society for Law Enforcement Training’s annual conference and exposition in February, drew nearly 1,000 police officers to compete in such events as tactical foot pursuit, use of force, threat recognition, pursuit driving, bicycle pursuit and, of course, stand-up comedy.
Although law enforcement is usually a serious business, the title of “World’s Funniest Cop” went to Dan Whitehurst, 37, (right) who is assigned to the Nashville Police Department’s armed robbery division. “There are so many funny things that happen in police work, but you can’t really laugh about them because it would be inappropriate,” he said. “Even though I don’t do police-related humor, a lot of my humor comes from things I’ve experienced.”
The competition was the highlight of ASLET’s five-day training seminar. Contestants performed a brief routine in a comedy club setting. Whitehurst said that winning the contest was a big deal and that it might help his chances to get someone to look at a tape of his work.
Down & dirty
For months after the murder of DeKalb County, Ga.’s sheriff-elect Derwin Brown on Dec. 15, 2000, investigators turned up no leads. Then just over a year later, a break in the case led to the arrest of the man Brown would have succeeded, former sheriff Sidney Dorsey.
Brown, 46, a county police captain who had vowed to clean up a notoriously corrupt sheriff’s department, was shot 11 times with semiautomatic weapon as he walked up the driveway of his suburban Atlanta home. Although Dorsey was suspected in the death of the man who had defeated him in a bitter race for office, no one had been able to connect him to Brown’s murder.
In March, however, a former sheriff’s deputy, Patrick Cuffy, was charged with murder and kidnapping in a shootout outside his own home. Chris Harvey, a homicide investigator for the DeKalb district attorney, testified at a bond hearing in December that prosecutors struck a deal with Cuffy in exchange for information about Dorsey and two co-defendants, Isaiah Ramsey Jr. and Melvin D. Walker.
While the details of the deal are not known, it is widely believed that the charges against Cuffy from the separate incident were dropped, and that Cuffy was granted immunity in exchange for testifying against Dorsey.
In November, District Attorney J. Tom Morgan said that he had been targeted by Brown’s killers for assassination. Morgan said he had been wearing a bulletproof vest and had had police protection.
Prosecutors also made an arrangement with Paul Skyers, a former employee of Dorsey’s private security firm. The two men said they had been on the scene with Dorsey, Ramsey and Walker when Brown was killed. The motive is believed to have been political revenge.
The 61-year-old Dorsey was the county’s first African-American sheriff, elected in 1996. Prior to his arrest, he was being investigated by a grand jury on suspicion of using on-duty deputies to staff his private security company and of assigning jail inmates to work on homes belonging to political supporters of his wife, an Atlanta councilwoman.
According to Harvey, Ramsey was not the gunman, but he carried a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol on the night of the killing. Skyers and Cuffy told investigators that he had dropped it and had to return to the Brown home to retrieve it. They have directed law enforcement officers to a Tec-9 which is suspected of being the murder weapon, according to Harvey.
Down & dirty
Current and former agency heads were among the thousands who were killed when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11. Charles Mills, a beloved former head of the police departments in Schenectady and Troy, N.Y., reportedly lost his life while helping fellow staffers at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance onto the last elevator to reach the ground safely. Mills (right), who was on the 87th floor of 2 World Trade Center, called his wife when the first hijacked plane hit the opposite tower. Eight minutes later, she said, a second plane hit the tower where her husband was located.
The 61-year-old Mills had begun his law enforcement career with the New York City Transit Police, serving 26 years and rising to the rank of assistant chief.
John P. O’Neill, 49, who was considered one of the FBI’s shrewdest counterterrorism officials, had retired from the bureau to become chief of security for the World Trade Center just one month prior to Sept. 11. He had led major investigations of suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and the bombings of the U. S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. He was also coordinator of information in the Oklahoma City bombing and played a key role in the investigation of the crash of TWA Flight 800.
At a 1997 conference, O’Neill had warned that terrorist groups, particularly Islamic militants, operating in this country had the capability and support to launch an attack here if they chose.
The destruction of the Twin Towers claimed the lives of 37 members of the Port Authority Police, including the agency’s top two officials Superintendent Ferdinand (Fred) V. Morrone, 63, and Police Chief James A. Romito, 50. One official reported that employees had encountered Morrone as they headed down the stairs to safety while he was heading upstairs in the rescue effort. Morrone was a 30-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police who took command of the Port Authority police in 1996.
Romito reportedly led a group of highly trained officers into the North Tower, and was believed to have been on the 27th floor when the building collapsed. Prior to his promotion to police chief, he had served as chief of the Field Aviation Section, where he was responsible for police operations at the Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark international airports. He played a large part in the investigation into the Flight 800 crash in 1996, and was also cited for valor for his work during the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
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Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Hagop “Jake” Kuredjian, 40, was shot and killed in a fierce firefight Aug. 31 as he helped federal agents attempting to arrest James Allen Beck, a heavily armed one-time police officer, on weapons charges. Kuredjian, a motorcycle officer, was a 17-year veteran. (Reuters)