- The Washington Times - Friday, December 27, 2002

The big corner office at New York's One Police Plaza might better be renamed the Police Chief's Training Academy.
The latest evidence for that is the hiring of former New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, 54, to head the troubled 9,000-member Los Angeles department, and last week's selection of former First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney, 54, as Miami's chief.
The tradition goes back to Theodore Roosevelt, who headed the New York Police Department for two years in a career that carried him all the way to the White House.
"Most people consider it the best job in policing in the country. But once you've reached the pinnacle of police work, where do you go?" said Michael Cronin, curator of the New York Police Museum.
Mr. Cronin answered his rhetorical question by saying most commissioners of the 40,000-member force come to the job after a career within NYPD ranks, then go on to take trophy positions in corporate security or consulting.
The job of NYPD commissioner has changed hands 41 times in 100 years more often than the mayors who appoint them. The last seven commissioners were sworn in over just 12 years.
Such qualified police administrators and top deputies quickly swept aside by new brooms become hot property for top law enforcement slots and as corporate security consultants.
The incumbent, Raymond W. Kelly, found his own unique answer. Mr. Kelly became the first person to take over the commissioner's job twice.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appointed Mr. Kelly commissioner No. 41. He was commissioner No. 37 during the regime of Mayor David Dinkins and directed the police response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
After interim jobs as U.S. commissioner of customs, and head of enforcement for Treasury Department agencies including the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Mr. Kelly returned to One Police Plaza when Mr. Bloomberg was sworn in.
As both Commissioners Bratton and Timoney famously told all who would listen, they and their "Compstat" tactics deserve credit for slashing New York's homicide rate by 70 percent and reducing overall crime 40 percent along with the late Deputy Commissioner and spats-wearing "crookologist" Jack Maple, who was the model for fictional D.C. Chief Jack Mannion on TV's "The District."
The most recent New York City commissioner's office alumnus to find himself in demand is former Deputy Commissioner of Operations Edward T. Norris, 42, a 20-year NYPD veteran who left the Big Apple in early 2000 to become Baltimore police commissioner. Mr. Norris left his job Friday after Maryland Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. appointed him to head the Maryland State Police. Mr. Norris' resume also claims considerable credit for the Compstat program, which forecasts crime trends and shifts manpower to likely target areas.
Chief Bratton consulted for police forces from Caracas, Venezuela, to Stamford, Conn., and chronicled his successes in a book titled "Turnaround: How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic."
Despite results that even opponents praised, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani tired of Commissioner Bratton's ability to win headlines. Mr. Giuliani chose two more police commissioners Howard Safir and Bernard Kerik during the last 5 years of his mayoralty.
Commissioner Safir, who crusaded to test all DNA rape kits after finding 16,000 untested kits in storage when he took office, now consults for a commercial DNA lab. Commissioner Kerik did a speaking tour after leaving office, and wrote an autobiography, "The Lost Son: A Life of Personal Justice" and joined the staff of Giuliani Partners.
Chief Bratton, who is married to lawyer and "Court TV" anchor Rikki Klieman, consulted and worked as a federal watchdog over the Los Angeles police, but quit that post to campaign to head the department, at a salary of $239,039.
Chief Timoney, an accomplished marathon runner who followed Chief Bratton's career path to become commissioner of Philadelphia's 7,000-member police department, competed unsuccessfully with his mentor for the Los Angeles job.
But Chief Timoney, an Irish immigrant from Dublin who began his police career as a patrolman in the Bronx, landed on his feet with the $173,000-a-year job as head of the relatively small 1,100-member Miami department, which operates within city limits independent of the much larger Miami-Dade County force.
Both men in their new jobs face opposition from minority interest groups, who say their methods and attitudes depend on racial profiling as a key tool against street crime.
Some Los Angeles police critics called Chief Bratton naive for vowing on the first day of his job to end the long-running slaughter in the streets by gangs formed along racial and ethnic lines and to conquer the graffiti those gangs use to stake out turf.
"Every day, the men and women of this department will be in that ring, fighting for you," Chief Bratton told a group of mothers Oct. 28 in a tough section of East Los Angeles where drive-by shootings are routine.
In his strong Boston accent, Chief Bratton told assembled officers the same day: "We're outnumbered. 100,000 gangbangers out there; 10-to-1." He has called for 1,000 more officers to improve the 1:409 ratio of officers to residents, compared to 1:209 in New York.
Many outsiders see Los Angeles' key police problem as the image of brutality and corruption, personified by Rampart Division scandals that led to a consent decree governing departmental actions.
One Angeleno, Kathleen Furness of Oak Park, advised in a letter to the Los Angeles Daily News that he start by repealing Special Order 40, which forbids line officers from inquiring about immigration status.
"Our local streets are flooded with hard-core gang members who are illegal immigrants," she said, calling for police to help the federal government enforce the nation's immigration laws.
The new chief's banter with Rick Caruso, who heads the Los Angeles Police Commission, as Mr. Caruso pinned on his badge may presage battles to be fought.
"If I stab you, it's only a sign of things to come," Mr. Caruso said.
"You can stick me any time, as long as it's not in the back," Chief Bratton said.
Descriptions of the department Mr. Bratton inherited eerily echo the official New York history portrayal of that 2,500-member police force inherited by Theodore Roosevelt as head of a reformist Police Board in "an era of widespread, almost routine, police corruption" and brutality on the streets.
Chief Timoney, who will be Miami's highest-paid official, concedes that his officers are doubtful about the outsider who takes over a skeptical force on Thursday.

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