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Career move's a win for Kelly

August 19, 2005

In the hush-hush worlds of law enforcement and intelligence, no public announcement has been made about the impending career change of Chief Mike Tiffany.

Tiffany, the two-star chief and commanding officer of the NYPD's revamped Intelligence Division under former CIA spook David Cohen, is not merely retiring from the department. He is set to join the federal government - specifically, the newly created office of the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte.

Former First Deputy John Timoney, currently the police chief of Miami and a Tiffany fan and mentor, says of the move, "To the best of my knowledge, Mike is the first local chief from a major city to be hired at a high-level intelligence job in post-9/11 Washington."

The hidden winner of this gambit appears to be none other Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who, law enforcement sources say, recommended Tiffany to Negroponte and who has again circumvented the FBI by placing his man in a key spot in the office of the country's new intelligence czar.

This serves Kelly in two ways, says a top law enforcement official outside the NYPD. First, through Tiffany, Kelly will be in position to gain access to information normally denied to local law enforcement.

Second, strengthening Negroponte also means weakening the FBI, which appears to be Kelly's national pastime.

The function of Negroponte's agency is to combine the resources of the nation's entire intelligence apparatus - the CIA, FBI, National Security Administration and the various branches of military intelligence. Like the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, this overlord intelligence agency will further dilute the FBI's influence.

As for Tiffany, he has been praised by cops and brass both for his loyalty and on-the-spot ingenuity. (He once locked a suspect in the trunk of his car to transport to his precinct.)

He is believed to have come to Kelly's attention in his first term as commissioner a decade ago when Timoney brought Tiffany to One Police Plaza from the 40th Precinct in the Bronx to work at the Office of Management Analysis and Planning.

But because he was viewed as a Timoney loyalist, Tiffany was buried by the subsequent administration of Rudolph Giuliani after Timoney called incoming police Commissioner Howard Safir a "lightweight."

For the next six years, Tiffany languished as a deputy chief. But Kelly, in his second term in 2002, resurrected him as the commanding officer of Intel, then promoted him to assistant chief. (In the NYPD, the rank of assistant chief is higher than deputy chief.)

Under Tiffany and Cohen, the city's version of an intelligence czar, Intel became a true intelligence-gathering operation. It forayed into New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts to conduct surveillance and undercover operations, and stationed detectives around the world to gather terrorist-related information. Both were in direct competition with the FBI.

A call to the NYPD's Office of Public Information was not returned. Neither Tiffany nor the White House press office, which, at least at this point, speaks for Negroponte, returned calls as well.

No remorse. Former NYPD deputy commissioner, Baltimore police commissioner, superintendent of Maryland State Police and, more recently, convicted felon, Ed Norris debuted this week as a radio talk show host, the latest stop on his event-filled life's journey.

Norris, 44, a third-generation NYC cop, served six months in federal prison in Atlanta and six more of home detention in Tampa, Fla., after pleading guilty to spending $20,000 from a secret Baltimore police fund on wine, women and travel. He returned to Baltimore to complete 500 hours of community service and to co-host a local talk show.

"I never whined," the Baltimore Sun quoted him as telling listeners. "I did it. I went. I was punished pretty severely. Enough already. It's in my past. I want to move on."

When asked by a caller whether he had remorse, he answered, "No, actually I don't. ... Stuff happens in life."

While on the air, a number of friends called in to wish him well, including two from New York. One was his former patrol partner, the other Safir, who had appointed him a deputy commissioner.

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© 2005 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.