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Click here or on the book cover at right to buy the book from Amazon.

A veteran reporter chronicles rampant New York City police corruption during the administrations of Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

Since 1994, Edgar Award winner Levitt (Conviction: Solving the Moxley Murder, 2004, etc.) has written a hard-hitting column about the NYPD, first for Newsday and, since 2005, at NYPDConfidential.com. (The author lost his press pass to One Police Plaza in 2007.)

Based on mostly anonymous interviews with police officials, his book details the latest scandals in a culture of conniption and cover-up as old as the 36,000-member department. Behind it lies the well-known loyalty of police officers (the "Blue Wall of Silence"), which, says Levitt, has led to "horrendous acts of corruption and brutality." Although the NYPD refuses to acknowledge it, increasing numbers of cops are being accused of corruption, he says, while the city's media, in a "post-9/11 swoon" over New York 's finest, look the other way.

Beyond recounting many familiar scandals, Levitt analyzes the endless posturing and politicking among city officials and police brass, whose egos and agendas clash endlessly while public-information officers scurry to manipulate media coverage. The author describes how Mayor Giuliani and Police Commissioner William Bratton jockeyed for credit as they pushed their "zero tolerance" policing; how the mean, humorless Commissioner Howard Safir increased racial tensions by turning police officers into "cowboys"; how Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Giuliani's former bodyguard and President George W. Bush's nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, self-destructed in a series of scandals; and how Commissioner Ray Kelly's counterterrorism push has turned the department into a "mini CIA" with little oversight.

Levitt also offers bright snapshots of such characters as Jack "the Jackster" Maple, a foppish deputy commissioner who developed a computerized system for collecting statistics on crime patterns.

Eye-opening reporting on America's largest and most powerful police force.

Village Voice

The latest and most detailed recounting of the epic New York City police disaster known as Bernie Kerik is in Leonard Levitt’s fascinating new tell-all history, NYPD Confidential.

Levitt, who wrote a column for Newsday that now runs on the web, tells of sitting at his desk in One Police Plaza in 2002 when he got a call from his book agent, Judith Regan, who didn’t want to waste time on small talk. “How well do you know Bernie Kerik?” she blurted.

Levitt writes that Regan interrupted his “blathering” about how Kerik had been a refreshing change to ask: “Do you know about his girlfriends?” She then regaled Levitt with the tale of how Bernie had promised to leave his wife for Regan. “We even went to look at apartments together. He literally used to cry in my arms about how guilty he felt.”

As Levitt tried to picture burly Bernie in tears, Regan went on to tell him that after she became convinced Kerik’s pillow talk was an act to get her to turn his own book into a bestseller, he turned on her. “He has been threatening me and he is stalking me as well as my two children.” Regan said that Kerik had called her at one point to tell her than he knew exactly where her son — a student at MIT — was on I-95 as he drove back to school.

“He’s cunning and charming and manipulative,” gasped Regan, “and he will stop at nothing. I think he’s capable of murder.”

Now there’s a new take on a former commissioner of America’s largest and most famous police department. Levitt also details how, before that dramatic break-up, Kerik was willing to do anything for Regan, including dispatching the lieutenant in charge of Manhattan South homicide in the middle of the night in search of a cell phone and necklace that she believed someone had stolen from her purse while she was at FoxTV. Cops fingerprinted and photographed suspects right in their homes, threatening arrest. The cell phone was later found in a garbage can near Fox. The necklace was at the bottom of Regan’s purse.

Levitt tells his story of police misdeeds and malpractice, interrupted by occasional profiles in courage, with his trademark saving grace, a wicked sense of humor. He is the only reporter to ever bring a Bible to a police commissioner’s press conference and ask him to put his hand on it while repeating an obvious fable. That commissioner was Howard Safir, but Levitt was an equal opportunity interrogator. No wonder Ray Kelly once drove all the way to Newsday’s headquarters in Melville, Long Island to try and get Levitt’s editors to rein him in. —Tom Robbins

New York Post

Not the Usual Suspects

NYC's highest ranking police face their own grilling from a veteran cops reporter


On a rainy Palm Sunday night in 1984, 10 women and children were gunned down execution-style at a house located in Brooklyn's 75th Precinct. It was a drug-related massacre that still stands as the largest mass murder in the city's history.

At a press conference following what became known as the Palm Sunday Massacre, Police Commissioner Ben Ward was nowhere to be seen. The highest ranking official in the NYPD was incommunicado.

He was on a drinking bender with his mistress, a fact that was reportedly covered up by nearly everyone in city government, including then-mayor Edward I. Koch. Ward's having been missing-in-action during the worst crime in his tenure as commissioner would not be known for nearly a year, until newspaper reporter Leonard Levitt made the claim.

Levitt, a former journalist for the now-defunct New York Newsday and host of web column “NYPD Confidential,”recalls this and other anecdotes in his bombshell of a book.

Starting with the Knapp Commission hearings of the early 1970s, the stories he relates are still startling years later, like the time in March 1983 when the Queens D.A., the head of the NYPD's Intelligence Division, and a local precinct squad commander gathered at the Altadonna restaurant in Queens for a secret dinner with Salvatore Reale, an “associate” of the Gambino crime family.

The dinner lasted 14 hours. The men were joined off and on by other “friends of the family.” The total bill was $1,825, and it was paid for by Sal the mobster.

Reporters inquired about this clandestine rendezvous, but the NYPD stonewalled for more than three years, and even then the official response was contradictory and less than transparent.

Writes Levitt, “At the highest levels of the NYPD, the culture of silence reflects the arrogance not merely of power but of ego.”

As Levitt sees it, years of hubris in the upper echelons of the NYPD culminated during the administration of Mayor Rudolf Giuliani. An era of unprecedented declines in crime stats and an increase in positive press brought about a commensurate level of maneuvering for credit.

Giuliani's ouster of then-Commissioner William Bratton, First Deputy John Timoney and Deputy Commissioner Jack Maple — the very men who presided over the strategies that saved the city — is a story that has been told before, but Levitt details it vividly with inside, sources.

The clash of egos and shameless self-promotion would be comical, except that the toxic nature of those years reinforced patterns and a tone that would come to dominate the institution.

The lowest ebb was the tenure of Commissioner Howard Safir, Giuliani's hand-picked successor to Bratton. In March 2000, when Patrick Dorismond, an African American, refused to buy drugs from an undercover narcotics cop and was accidentally shot dead by the cop's partner, Giuliani and Safir sought to defame the victim.

The Mayor ordered his police commissioner to release Dorismond's juvenile record — normally sealed by law — which showed an arrest (but no conviction) at the age of thirteen for disorderly conduct.

“People do act in conformity very often with their prior behavior,” announced Giuliani, adding, “We would not want a picture presented of an altar boy, when in fact, maybe it isn't an altar boy.”

In fact, as Dorismond's juvenile record showed, he had been an altar boy. The city was sued and forced to pay $2.25 million in damages.

Levitt makes it clear that his gripes with the Department come, in part, from personal experience. Three years ago, Commissioner Ray Kelly — unhappy with something Levitt wrote — revoked his press pass and had him banned from One Police Plaza as a security risk.

Writes Levitt, “Top law enforcement officials are hardly the stolid, stoic figures as Hollywood presents them. The slightest criticism can spook them.”

New York Magazine

Leonard Levitt has been covering the politics and personal relationships of One Police Plaza since 1983, giving him access to the city's governing elite — connections he puts to excellent use here. The book examines New York's heralded drop in crime in the nineties (with an egomaniacal Rudy Giuliani center stage), and it's fascinating to see how toxic the atmosphere at NYPD headquarters became despite — or because of — that success. Levitt addresses the big issues via an engaging, character-driven narrative and wisely never resorts to the macho melodrama that poisons so much of tabloid police reporting.

New York Daily News

Sour taste to dish on commish

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is shrugging off a stinging new book by longtime antagonist Leonard Levitt.

The former Newsday columnist writes in "NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country's Greatest Police Force" that he was personally thrilled when Mayor Bloomberg brought Kelly back in 2002 for a second stint as PC. "I respected his judgment temperament, integrity," say evitt, who believed the cop's cop could end the tight-lipped siege mentality that reigned over the NYPD during Rudy Giuliani's administration. Kelly returned the love, Levitt says, by calling him "the only reporter in New York with b---s."

But after a string of stories that Kelly called inaccurate (one he branded "mendaciously vindictive"), the commish drove out to Long Island to complain to Levitt's editors.

Shortly thereafter, Levitt says, he found his usual cop contacts shirking him. "An inspector I knew in Brooklyn told me his chief had warned him, 'Being seen with Lenny Levitt is committing career suicide.'"

"The police department under Kelly became more sparing of information than under Giuliani," writes Levitt, pointing to Kelly's ordering cops to turn over their private cell phone records to find out who'd spoken to reporters. "He refused to release such minor details as his public schedule [and] the weekly schedule of officers facing [corruption] charges."

"Despite his accomplishments and successes" in lowering crime rates and heading off terrorists, "Kelly remained bitter toward those he felt had wronged him," Levitt claims. "Ironically, the man Kelly increasingly reminded me of was the man he most despised — Rudy Giuliani," who had fired him.

Levitt contends that Kelly also resented former Commish Bill Bratton — even though he, too, was a victim of Giuliani's wrath — because Bratton had belittled the accomplishments of Kelly's first term. In 2001, when Bratton came through New York, "Kelly refused to take his calls," Levitt claims. He also asserts that Kelly refused to meet with former Commissioner Howard Safir.

Levitt continued to hammer Kelly, writing about his clashes with several members of his personal security detail. In 2005, when he started writing for Newsday as a freelancer, Levitt says the NYPD demanded that he give up his 1 Police Plaza building pass. Later, when his contract with the paper expired, he says he was barred from entering the building and saw his picture posted at the front desk as a possible "security threat." The NYPD insisted the moves were unrelated to his critical reporting.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne suggests Levitt is the one with a grudge. He declined to dignify Levitt's allegations beyond calling them "recycled, fabricated gossip driven by personal animus, unimproved with age." —George Rush and Joanna Rush Molloy

Publishers Weekly

When he covered the NYPD for Newsday, Levitt had access to all levels of the country's largest law enforcement agency, and now the Edgar winner (Conviction) catalogues dirty cops and departmental scandals. While he doesn't withhold credit where it's due (such as in the World Trade Center attacks), Levitt is most interested in the corrupt underbelly of America's largest police department. "[S]acrificing truth for image while acting in secrecy" is the department's M.O., he says. Both the 1970s Knapp Commission corruption hearings and the Molten Commission in the 1990s underscored that dirty cops weren't confined to the lower ranks — the dishonesty reached all the way to the highest echelons. Examining some of the department's most notorious acts of violence — e.g., the torturing of Abner Louima, the shooting death of the unarmed Amadou Diallo — he has little praise for supposedly tough-on-crime mayor Giuliani. Some readers' eyes may cross at the sheer abundance of names and dates (a time line offers some help), but Levitt's account is an engrossing in-depth look at scandal inside the NYPD.


From the PC’s office at One Police Plaza to the loneliest late-night station house, New York cops (and those who follow them) have long depended on Leonard Levitt’s gritty truths. In a marathon run as Newsday’s toughest police reporter and the past few years on his own blog, Levitt has dug and dug and dug. His new book, “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country’s Greatest Police Force,” won’t please all the brass. But it’s an arresting look inside a fascinating department, as piercing as Glock fire, as tight as a handcuff click. —Ellis Henican

Email Leonard Levitt at levitt@nypdconfidential.com