Eric Adams for Police Commissioner

But How Black Is Mark Green?

During the search for a successor to Howard Safir as police commissioner, Rudy Giuliani heaped praise on Kerik, 45, for reducing violence among inmates in his capacity as commissioner of the Department of Correction. Kerik was a former cop who served as an NYPD narcotics detective for most of his eight years on the force. At that time, however, it appeared that Kerik might not get the job because he did not have a college degree—a prerequisite to being police commissioner. A high school dropout with an equivalency diploma, Kerik had been taking courses through Empire State College and needed 24 more credits for his bachelor's degree. He got a waiver from City Hall to bypass the requirement.

Adams, a champion of community policing, has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from John Jay College. He began his law enforcement career in 1984 after joining the transit police. Later he was promoted to sergeant. In 1995 when the Giuliani administration merged the transit and housing police departments with the NYPD, Adams retained the rank of sergeant. Later, he passed two promotional exams for lieutenant. Commissioner Safir, who had the right to pick and choose from a list of successful candidates, reportedly intended to ignore Adams, who had been critical of the department and of Safir's leadership. But on November 5,

1998—two months after the NYPD disrupted the Million Youth March in Harlem—Safir backed down and promoted Adams. "I got promoted because of the Million Youth March," Adams theorized. "There was such an uprising in the black community over the way the department handled the crowd at the march that when my name came up for promotion, they said, I guess, 'We don't need any more heat from the people.' "

Mayoral hopeful urged to consider leader of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement for NYPD top cop.
photo: Jay Muhlin
Mayoral hopeful urged to consider leader of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement for NYPD top cop.

In some quarters, Eric Adams is considered a threat to the department and to the extremist views on policing enforced by the Giuliani administration. In 1998, the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau conducted two probes of 100 Blacks and Adams for an allegation not related to his organization.

The investigations were revealed during testimony by Deputy Chief Raymond King of Internal Affairs in Manhattan Federal Court. King was testifying at the civil trial of Yvette Walton, a former officer who claimed she was fired because she spoke out at a City Council hearing on the Street Crime Unit following the killing of Diallo.

King made the statements under cross-examination by New York Civil Liberties Union attorney Christopher Dunn. He testified that from August to October 1998, Internal Affairs conducted "covert surveillances" of Adams and collected his phone records. King did not say why Internal Affairs was investigating Adams. "They said I was associating with a known felon," recalled Adams. "But the foundation of the investigation was bogus." He described the investigation of him as "straight out of COINTELPRO," referring to the acronym for the FBI's notorious investigations of black organizations and the civil rights movement during the '60s and early '70s.

Adams said he knew that "the dark side," a code name for Internal Affairs, was watching him because straight-arrow cops who protected him were watching the spies. "Someone has been calling me throughout my career, tipping me off," he said. "This is the same person who called me and told me Internal Affairs had cameras in my office. Sure enough, I found the cameras in my office. Then this person told me, 'They're monitoring your phone calls.' This person played back a telephone call I had gotten. This person said, 'They're trying to disrupt your home.' "

Adams told reporters there were no problems at work that would warrant an investigation, and added that during the time he was under surveillance, he was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant. The case was closed in June 1999 and deemed "unsubstantiated," meaning the charges could not be proved or disproved.

In March 1999, Internal Affairs began a separate probe into 100 Blacks. King did not say what the probe was about, but a police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it involved complaints from two black officers in the Street Crime Unit that members of 100 Blacks were allegedly harassing them following the Diallo shooting. Adams's group allegedly wanted the Street Crime cops to tell them about alleged racist activities within the unit.

Adams said at the time that he was "bewildered and concerned" about the investigations. "Since our organization was put in place, we've prided ourselves in bringing about some type of harmony within the police force," said the activist cop who cofounded 100 Blacks with Sergeant Noel Leader. "I cannot imagine what we have done in the last five years that would prompt this. We've held ourselves to a strict code, and expect our members to do the same."

Adams and 100 Blacks criticized the department when they felt it gave out misleading information about controversial shootings involving fellow officers. Adams recalled how the department tried to cover up a so-called "friendly fire" shooting of an African American officer during a drug probe in East New York. "Somehow it first leaked out that the shooting was [the work of] a sniper," Adams testified at a federal trial involving Yvette Walston's lawsuit against the department. "We knew that it was not a sniper and we [held] a news conference to inform the public that it was not a sniper." Adams also revealed that the department gathered information on officers' statements by sending undercover cops, who posed as reporters, to news conferences called by 100 Blacks.

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