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Long shot ponders top cops

August 26, 2005

No man is indispensable - even after 9/11, as New Yorkers discovered when Rudolph Giuliani sought to postpone the 2001 mayoral election so he could remain mayor three extra months. Somehow, the city survived without him.

More recently, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, sounding like his predecessor Bernard Kerik four years ago, announced he wouldn't remain under anyone but his current boss, in Kelly's case, Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

No problem, says Rep. Anthony Weiner, the long-shot Democratic mayoral candidate who earlier this month put Kelly at the top of his police commissioner appointment list. There are plenty of others.

Yes, Weiner acknowledged in an interview with Newsday on Wednesday, "Kelly has a command of what goes on within the NYPD as well as any commissioner I have ever seen."

But, Weiner adds, there's also Bill Bratton, now heading the Los Angeles Police Department, who sounds like he might just like to return to New York; John Timoney, now the chief in Miami; and former First Deputy Joe Dunne, currently the head of security for UBS-Paine Webber.

"I don't think you have to be an NYPD alumnus," said Weiner, referring to the man he might select as commissioner in the unlikely event he wins the Democratic primary and then defeats Bloomberg. "But it would be the first place I would look."

Weiner - who confesses he has never been inside One Police Plaza - said he watched Bratton and Timoney "up close when I was in the City Council."

"I think that Giuliani and Bratton deserve a lot of credit for changing the mind-set in the city that crime is an insoluble problem. I like the idea how he used technology to help us level the playing field with criminals," Weiner said of Bratton. "He picked good people and held them accountable."

And referring to the steep crime declines that began after Bratton and Giuliani took office, he added, "There's no arguing with success."

Weiner said of Timoney, who after leaving the NYPD as first deputy under Bratton headed the Philadelphia Police Department before moving to Miami: "He has shown in Philly that he understood how to ease racial tensions. There's not an ounce of pretense in him."

As for Dunne, Weiner said: "He's definitely on the short list. He is very impressive. And cops admire him a great deal. The mayor sometimes has to be in an adversarial position with men and women in blue. Dunne has unimpeachable credentials in the eyes of beat cops."

One tough guy. Guess who was in Jordan last week at the request of its king, Abdullah II, leaving, by coincidence, the day before a missile was fired at a U.S. naval vessel? None other than Kerik, who now heads a security firm, called the Kerik Group, which is exploring projects in Jordan, Dubai and Lebanon.

Eight months after his personal life unraveled before the nation following his nomination as director of Homeland Security, Kerik has resurfaced. Although a mystery remains of how he was vetted for the police commissioner's job without filing the proper financial disclosures, it appears no indictment will follow from that or from anything else he allegedly did.

Instead, on Kerik's Web site, there is a picture of him and President George W. Bush, with the presidential quote, "Bernie is a dedicated, innovative reformer who insists on getting results."

Kerik's lawyer Joe Tacopina, whose office houses the Kerik Group, says of him: "He's one of the strongest human beings I have ever met. He spent four years in the Middle East, went to the war zone in Iraq when he had no obligation to do that. It is his nature to be mentally and internally tough. That is who he is."

John Joins the bureau. It's official. John Miller, Bratton's former NYPD spokesman, is to head the FBI's public information office, reporting to director William Mueller. Question: Will Miller be able to reshape the bureau's image in Washington and New York, with both Congress and Ray Kelly tugging at its powers? Or will Miller fall victim, like the late 9/11 hero John O'Neill, to the FBI's stringent culture, where innovation can lead to ridicule or ostracism?

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© 2005 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.