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Antigun Poster Features a Fake

October 31, 1994

The little girl's photograph formed the centerpiece of an antigun campaign launched last week at One Police Plaza. Blonde and blue-eyed, she stared out from a poster reading: "Lindsay Walsh was killed with a 9mm handgun by an 8-year-old boy."

Washington Heights businessman Fernando Mateo, founder of the Goods for Guns program, then told reporters Lindsay's sad story. He said Lindsay was shot and accidentally killed after an 8-year-old neighbor found the gun in the street.

But little Lindsay's poster never appeared in the newspapers. She is a fraud.

"There is no Lindsay Walsh," Andrew Morris, the Goods for Guns Foundation executive director, admitted late last week. "She is a totally fictitious character."

Time pressures, he said, caused the foundation to begin its poster campaign with a phony victim. The photograph, he explained, was that of a relative of someone at its advertising agency, Doig, Elliott, Schur. "Obviously there is no shortage of murdered kids," said Morris. "The message we would like to convey is that this could happen to any one of us."

He added that 1,000 posters would soon go up around the city bearing photographs of five real New York City children who were murdered, with their real names and ages, descriptions of their deaths and the words: "I'd ask you to help get guns off the streets. But I'm dead." Morris says the first victim featured will be 17-year-old Donald White, a black youth who was killed by another 17-year-old on Oct. 29, 1989, with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun.

Promotions and premonitions. The Police Department held a major promotion ceremony Friday, advancing six officers to the ranks of chief, 16 to inspector, and seven to captain. But the buzz in the overflow crowd at One Police Plaza was about two promotions not on the program - first deputy commissioner and chief of detectives.

The favorite for first deputy - the department's No. 2 job - wasn't even in the building. John Timoney, the current chief of department, was in Ireland, running the Dublin marathon. Timoney, who also runs the Boston marathon, is due back in town for Sunday's New York Marathon. The four-star job is rumored to go to Joseph Leake, now the four-star chief of the housing police.

Timoney's problem is that if promoted to first dep, a civilian post, he gets no pay increase and may have to move back to the city from Rockland County, where he lives with his wife and two teenage sons. As chief of department, a uniformed position, he can live anywhere. Leake doesn't have those problems. One of his children attends high school. Two others have attended Harvard and Stanford.

Meanwhile, in keeping with unwritten department tradition, both retiring first deputy and chief of detectives, Dave Scott and Joe Borrelli, have Printable versionindicated they may apply for line-of-duty disability pensions. Scott retired once before in 1992, citing unspecified medical problems, then withdrew his application. Last week he said he had a "a right bundle branch blockage" to his heart. "I'm keeping my options open," he said.

Borrelli has a bad back. Not for nothing has he been wearing his heavy woolen sweater for the past six months.

The littlest secret. Former Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward was rough, tough and gruff. When cops were caught using a stun gun on witnesses in the 106th Precinct, he fired the entire Queens borough command. When 11 officers on the midnight tour were caught sleeping in their pajamas at Bronx Central Booking, he transferred them all - plus two supervising captains and their inspector.

But Ward also had a tender side. He loved babies and toddlers. And in 1989, the year he retired, he left his legacy on the NYPD: The Finest Child Care Center.

Tucked away in two classrooms at One Police Plaza, The Finest enrolls 35 children, ages 2 1/2 to 6, whose parents are city police employees in the building or in nearby department locations. The program is especially attractive to civilian employees, who use a city subsidy to defray the $120-a-week cost. "It's a happy place," says the department's liason Judy Dynia of the center. "The laughter of children is in stark contrast to the rest of the building."

Successive commissioners have supported the center. Commissioner William Bratton is raising money for classroom computers. Today, Halloween, the children go trick-or-treating. Their first stop: his office on the 14th floor.

My Cherokee and me, again. With summer over, you'll no longer see Bill Bratton tooling around the Hamptons in his new Jeep Cherokee, purchased by the department for inclement emergency weather use. The commissioner's branching out. Last week, he ditched his bodyguards and drove the $ 30,000, four-wheel drive vehicle up the Hudson to West Point to view the parading cadets and the fall foliage, said department spokesman John Miller. And spotted in the Jeep's front seat last week at Police Plaza was "The New England Travel Discount Guide." Miller swears Bratton hasn't driven the Cherokee back to Boston, where his roots are, or for that matter anywhere in New England. Yet.

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© 1994 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission