What is it About New York’s Police Leaders?

When the President announced that he selected Bernard Kerik, a former New York Police commissioner, to head the Department of Homeland Security I was skeptical. I live in the state of Maryland and Baltimore City has recruited former New York Police leaders to be the commissioner of the Baltimore City Police Department. One of them moved on to become superintendent of the State Police (thus requiring a new commissioner who was recruited from New York).

The first guy was Edward Norris. He came down here and took over the Baltimore Police Department. Problem is, there was a slush fund for the commissioner that Norris dipped in to in order to entertain some lady friends that were not his wife. He spent money on sexy gifts for them, trysts with them, you know, all the things one would expect a police officer not to do. After Norris accepted the job as superintendent the investigation brought all this to light. Norris had to resign the position and ended up getting convicted and going to jail for six months. He got as much time as Martha Stewart and he was supposed to uphold the law.

The next guy they bring in from New York is Kevin Clark. It appears as if he was not particularly well liked by the rank and file. They were a little upset that outsiders kept getting selected over qualified officers from the department. Anyway, one night some time ago, the police get called to Clark’s house for an alleged domestic dispute involving him and his girlfriend. The police reviewed this and the Mayor decided to have another jurisdiction conduct an investigation. The findings were sealed and all they would say was that there was no wrong doing. If you or I did that a judge would have to make that decision but if you are a cop then you don’t really have to follow the law or go by the same rules as the rest of society. As it turns out, the report was released and it was pretty long. I don’t really know what it said but there seemed to be a lot of contradictions, at least according to the news. Not all that unexpected when you consider how the police look out for each other. Turns out, Clark had some problems with domestic issues in New York. All the attention to this was finally too much for the boy mayor of Baltimore and he released Clark. Now Clark is suing the City for around $60 million. He believes he was wrongfully dismissed.

When Kerik was selected I though Oh no, not another New York Cop. I am sure there are many fine police officers there and across the country. The problem is the police have to uphold the law all the time. If they don’t the people lose confidence in the department. Think about this, if some twit Sheriff’s Deputy made a bunch of bogus stops (claims you are weaving even if you are not) so he can check more people for drinking and driving to beef up his arrest numbers then pretty soon he and his department lose credibility. Is it any wonder that people riot when they believe the police have done wrong? No, the people have lost confidence in the police and their ability to execute their duties without passion or prejudice. As I said, I was worried about Kerik but figured they must have checked him out pretty good. Now it appears he might have had an affair with a subordinate, employed an illegal immigrant, and not paid taxes on the immigrant’s salary (or paid insufficient taxes).

I am dismayed about the whole thing. Someone over at B4B stated that he had hoped there would be more discussion but was happy with the selection. Well, now we see that more discussion was needed. It is unfortunate but at least the guy had the sense to bow out before the confirmation hearing. Then it would have been more than ugly.

Advice to Bush administration: Stay away from career police officers, especially ones from New York. Try looking at some recently retired military officers. They might be your best bet.

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