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NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country's Greatest Police Force Hardcover – July 21, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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 Mollen 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. (July)
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Top Customer Reviews
Power and Corruption in the Country's Greatest Police Force
NYPD Confidential by Leonard Levitt certainly didn't spare any criticisms of the "Brass" at One Police Plaza or even City Hall for that matter. So, Levitt shouldn't have been surprised that the Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly and the other two major subjects of his book, Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg didn't respond to his request for interviews. Levitt was already on record as having criticized them in his news editorials. Commissioner Kelly even had previously revoked his press credentials after a negative article that Levitt wrote about Kelly. Welcome to the New York City Police Department. "When your in you're a Guest when your out you're a Pest."
I spent twenty-two and a half years in the NYPD in a number of special assignments from the elite Tactical Patrol Force making my way up the ladder through the Detective Division and retiring as the Commander of Bronx Homicide. I can personally attest to what happens to anyone who criticizes the "High Command." I was there during many of the scandals that Lenny describes in his book. Although I thought that I knew most of what had taken place and some of the inside stories behind the news, I was amazed at how much I didn't know after I read Lenny's book. There are certainly some eye-opening details in this book that reveal the naked ambitions of some of the most powerful people I served under during my career with the NYPD. However, one thing I did notice is that Lenny didn't get everything right. That was probably because he was looking at the event through the eyes of a reporter and not a cop. Needless to say, as a dedicated law enforcement professional I found some of the revelations embarrassing. Yet, despite the revelations in NYPD Confidential, I can state unequivocally that there are more good cops than bad cops in the NYPD. As a student of human behavior I can comprehend how some of the folks that Lenny personally identified in NYPD Confidential chose to use political expediency to combat the truth. But is it any different in the federal government or private industry?
Thankfully, I was lucky enough to be assigned to the outer Borough of the Bronx for most of my career and had little interaction with the Headquarters. I found the "Headquarters Mentality" to be treacherous not to mention how devastating it was to people's careers. I think that Lenny did get it right regarding the egos, attitudes and rivalries, which permeate One Police Plaza. But, sadly, the duplicity of these folks will continue to be played out each and every day.
Even in his introduction Lenny admits that most of the police officials who did talk to him did so anonymously and that included high ranking members of the department. You have to read this book to understand how and why people like Commissioner Ray Kelly, who has been described as a megalomaniac in NYPD blogs, as well as others mentioned in this book can be dangerous adversaries and will go to any lengths to destroy the careers of anyone whom they suspect as disloyal or a threat to their ambitions. It's a testimony to Leonard Levitt that the police officials who did speak to him actually trusted him to keep them nameless. Ask yourself a question. Why?
We need tough scrutiny if Ray Kelly and Charles Campisi and a new commissioning to police corruption Bratton taught me turn broken windows back on the NYPD.
Like Lenonard Levitt, I have an intense respect and admiration for the NYPD and I find corruption intolerable.bSept. 11 is just one example where he talks about their heroic losses in the line of duty. He also exposes corruption at City Hall, including Giuliani's terrible conflicts of interests. Rudy neatly deposited Christine Lategano as head of tourism with a $150,000 paying job, a promotion which makes me think at least Bill Clinton did not put Monica on the pay roll. No wonder Giuliani was quiet when it came to Clinton's abuse of power with an intern. Lategano does not implement the use of a thong but rather would leap on to John Miller with her arms and legs wrapped around Miller at City Hall. Giuliani had a double standard and took issue with Bratton flying around doing public relations all over the globe but had no problem with Bernie Kerik doing the same. Ultimately, Levitt leads us all to wonder how Giuliani was supposedly clueless to the "real Bernie Kerik." My interpretation is Kerik appeared to take advantage of situations like a sex addict but money was his sex. It just seemed he had a bottomless pit of bills, was living beyond his means and expected everyone around him to absorb his costs like a sponge. Kerik, a married man, simultaneously had two mistresses and abused the NYPD by having officers make late night visits to find his girl friend Judith Regan's necklace and cel phone. The story is utterly repulsive and surprise, after Fox employees, one married to a police officer got their inappropriate and intimidating visits -- Regan's necklace was found in her pocketbook and her phone in the garbage. The stories go on and on and it is up to you to decide whether you want to read them or not. Safir comes off awfully even having NYPD officers assigned to him after his retirement, pick up his laundry and run errands for his family which is clearly an abuse; ditto for Ben Warde who can not be found when the Palm Sunday Massacre is discovered because Warde is away on a drunken binge with his mistress. The book lacks the depth, complexity and compassion of the Durk biography I read which delved in to corruption at City Hall as well. Durk loves the NYPD so deeply and Levitt goes the way of Hollywood and honors the "myth of Serpico" by erasing Durk completely. Durk's bio had moving stories of other officers like one who, he and his wife had many of their own children, fostered and even adopted a child that so handicapped she would have been institutionalized. But Levitt does end with compassion and I did want to cry. The compassion is for Lt. Michael Pigott and deservedly so. From what I read, Lt. Pigott was a very good man and he took a tragic mistake to heart, took full responsibility and heartbreakingly took his own life. There is so much I want to say but this will have to do. Am I critical of Levitt? Yes. Do I think news reporters like him are important? Yes. I don't alway agree with Leviit; often not but it is a free society. What frightens me most is what the newspapers are not reporting, the news right here at City Hall from city council members robbing tax payers' money to pension fund scandals that come off like white collar crime. As Levitt points out, we all carry video cameras and recording devices like MP3 players so as Clayton Patterson, famous for filming the Tompkins Square Riot said on Oprah, way back when, "Little brother is watching Big brother." Levitt eventually is banned from One Police Plaza but continues his work from the internet and will make waves I am sure with this book. I remember sitting at the New School listening to Bratton talk to us and he was so winning. I have never met Commissioner Kelly face to face and despite Levitt's critique and I know some political activists that agree, I have great admiration for Kelly coming in after Sept. 11 with the greatest challenges of any police commissioner ever. He is solid, stable and has integrity and after the Kerik debacle, those qualities are essential. Levitt touches on Bloomberg extending term limits; what I call the Bloomberg "deal ordeal" in a piece I wrote, "Bloomberg Newzzz". I don't delve in to how this impacted Kelly but Levitt does. Commish Kelly's popularity was higher than Bloomberg's at the time so in theory Kelly could have run for mayor. Levitt points out if Bloomberg wins and Kelly remains, he will be the longest serving Commissioner in NYC's history which in my opinion is a powerful statement post 9-11. Post Script: As I fight to oust Mike Bloomberg, page 51 Leonard Levitt" NYPD Confidential", Giuliani forgives Mort Zuckerman's $38 million forfeiture fee for failing to close Coliseum deal was for me, foreshadowing of a Bloomberg I foolishly never imagined. A mayor that would sell out the people of NYC and the city's soul to developers, sadly you might note, most everyone who owns newspapers are real estate magnates. I had to add one more point and maybe I misunderstood this but Leonard Levitt catches John Miller in a lie denying he had a conversation with news reporter Rotello. Rotello had taped the converstation and played it for Levitt. Miller apparently is so charismatic, Levitt forgives his misdeed. Levitt gossips about Lategano having a possible brief affair with Miller which had several goals including mentoring, getting the mayor to be jealous which apparently paid off from getting a series of raises, promotions and even traveling with Rudy to Jerusalem.