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Fields says if she gets in, Kelly is out

July 29, 2005

Democratic mayoral candidate C. Virginia Fields says that if elected mayor, she won't keep Ray Kelly as police commissioner, but the qualifications she says she's seeking in a successor sound a lot like his.

"I want someone with broad-based experience, who has had various work assignments and knows policing in this city," she said in an interview. "Someone who has worked with diverse groups and who appreciates community policing."

Community policing, a vaguely defined policy of increased engagement between officers and communities, was Kelly's policy in his first term as commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins.

"I have no complaints about Commissioner Kelly," Fields continued. But selecting a police commissioner, she said, "is not dependent on what someone has done in a previous administration."

"For anyone to assume that because they are there and doing a good job, that they automatically stay, that is certainly not a plan of mine," she said.

Like her Democratic rivals, Fernando Ferrer and Gifford Miller, Fields declined to name anyone she might consider, other than to say that she would select someone from the NYPD.

"I know a number of the top personnel, as well as others. I have worked with a number of them," Fields said.

Some, she added, she has known from local precincts, others from headquarters.

As for community policing, which Kelly's successor, William Bratton, mocked and abandoned, terming it "social work," Fields said: "I want a policy that puts police into communities, to know communities better. We have moved away from that, but with more immigrants we have to understand more about what is happening. My view of community policing is that it helps create a climate that will drive down crime as it engages citizens more."

Fields, whose poll numbers rose after she criticized Ferrer for calling the police shooting of Amadou Diallo "a tragedy but not a crime," said: "I say it was a crime because any time you shoot a person 41 times constitutes a crime."

Four police officers fired 44 rounds, 19 of which struck the unarmed Diallo. One of the four cops said he mistook Diallo's wallet for a gun. A jury acquitted all four men.

But Fields, sounding a little like Ferrer, said she would take no action against the two officers who shot Diallo and who remain on the force, albeit without their guns.

"Decisions were made by top managers as relating to their assignments," she said of police brass. "To review it now in specifics to those officers is not helpful."

But, she added, "I would not put those officers back on the street."

The fighting McCarthys (continued). Here is Palisades Parkway Police Officer Roman Galloza's report describing how he handcuffed and arrested NYPD Deputy Commissioner Garry McCarthy. The report of Galloza's partner, Det. Thomas Rossi - who had ticketed McCarthy's daughter Kyla for parking in a handicapped zone - appeared in this column last week.

"I forced the door to [patrol car] J23 by kicking it open," Galloza stated. "I had to do this because McCarthy was creating a physical interference ... with his body. Once I was out of the vehicle, I informed McCarthy that he was being placed under arrest. He said -- that, so I placed McCarthy in an arm bar. ... Det. Rossi grabbed his handgun out of his waistband for officer safety and threw it in the front seat of J23.

"I was able to grab hold of both McCarthy's arms. ... During the course of my brief struggle, I had noticed that Det. Rossi was struggling with McCarthy's wife. While I had McCarthy's arms behind his back, I handcuffed his left wrist and informed him to stop resisting numerous times as he was saying we didn't know what the -- we were doing and that we didn't know who he was and to get off his wife. I was able to handcuff McCarthy and I had him pinned down on the trunk of J23."

One last point that might explain McCarthy's actions: "As he was speaking," Galloza wrote, "I could detect a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath."

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© 2005 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.