New York Supplies Nation's Top Cops; Other Cities Get Ex-commissioners.(PAGE ONE)

Article excerpt

Byline: Frank J. Murray, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The big corner office at New York's One Police Plaza might better be renamed the Police Chief's Training Academy.

The latest evidence for that is the hiring of former New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, 54, to head the troubled 9,000-member Los Angeles department, and last week's selection of former First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney, 54, as Miami's chief.

The tradition goes back to Theodore Roosevelt, who headed the New York Police Department for two years in a career that carried him all the way to the White House.

"Most people consider it the best job in policing in the country. But once you've reached the pinnacle of police work, where do you go?" said Michael Cronin, curator of the New York Police Museum.

Mr. Cronin answered his rhetorical question by saying most commissioners of the 40,000-member force come to the job after a career within NYPD ranks, then go on to take trophy positions in corporate security or consulting.

The job of NYPD commissioner has changed hands 41 times in 100 years - more often than the mayors who appoint them. The last seven commissioners were sworn in over just 12 years.

Such qualified police administrators and top deputies quickly swept aside by new brooms become hot property for top law enforcement slots and as corporate security consultants.

The incumbent, Raymond W. Kelly, found his own unique answer. Mr. Kelly became the first person to take over the commissioner's job twice.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appointed Mr. Kelly commissioner No. 41. He was commissioner No. 37 during the regime of Mayor David Dinkins and directed the police response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

After interim jobs as U.S. commissioner of customs, and head of enforcement for Treasury Department agencies including the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Mr. Kelly returned to One Police Plaza when Mr. Bloomberg was sworn in.

As both Commissioners Bratton and Timoney famously told all who would listen, they and their "Compstat" tactics deserve credit for slashing New York's homicide rate by 70 percent and reducing overall crime 40 percent - along with the late Deputy Commissioner and spats-wearing "crookologist" Jack Maple, who was the model for fictional D.C. Chief Jack Mannion on TV's "The District."

The most recent New York City commissioner's office alumnus to find himself in demand is former Deputy Commissioner of Operations Edward T. Norris, 42, a 20-year NYPD veteran who left the Big Apple in early 2000 to become Baltimore police commissioner. Mr. Norris left his job Friday after Maryland Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. appointed him to head the Maryland State Police. Mr. Norris' resume also claims considerable credit for the Compstat program, which forecasts crime trends and shifts manpower to likely target areas.

Chief Bratton consulted for police forces from Caracas, Venezuela, to Stamford, Conn., and chronicled his successes in a book titled "Turnaround: How America's Top Cop Reversed the Crime Epidemic."

Despite results that even opponents praised, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani tired of Commissioner Bratton's ability to win headlines. Mr. Giuliani chose two more police commissioners - Howard Safir and Bernard Kerik - during the last 51/2 years of his mayoralty.

Commissioner Safir, who crusaded to test all DNA rape kits after finding 16,000 untested kits in storage when he took office, now consults for a commercial DNA lab. Commissioner Kerik did a speaking tour after leaving office, and wrote an autobiography, "The Lost Son: A Life of Personal Justice" and joined the staff of Giuliani Partners. …