Friday, October 24, 2014

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Law Enforcement Officials Remember Mayor Who Dealt With Difficult Crime Issues

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Lawyers, judges and police officers remembered former Mayor Ed Koch Friday not only as a mayor who had to deal with tough economic times, but as a mayor who had to deal with difficult crime issues as well. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Long before he was police commissioner, Ray Kelly was working his way up through the ranks of the NYPD during the Koch years. He said that during the '70s and '80s, the city's fiscal crisis meant there wasn't extra money for extra cops. So the city moved officers around the best it could to fight a new drug epidemic that was turning the streets bloody.

"Crack really hit the city like a tidal wave in 1985," Kelly said. "From 1985 to 1989, we had a significant increase in violence during those years, and there were a lot of efforts to stem the tide, and the mayor was supportive of it."

Federal Judge Sterling Johnson was the city's special narcotics prosecutor during the time.

"I remember meetings at City Hall with Koch being present," Johnson said. "He didn't have one of his deputies there. He was there with the federal authorities, myself and some DAs."

Judge Johnson was a police officer before becoming a lawyer. He said Koch helped diversify the top ranks of the NYPD.

"The thing that I always remember Ed for is the fact that he appointed my partner as the police commissioner, the first black police commissioner, Ben Ward," he said.

Former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau said that although Koch was serious about fighting crime, he could also makes his point through humor.

"I remember a man had gotten up at a town meeting and said 'I have been mugged, but I am still critical of the police department's aggressive law enforcement,'" Morgenthau said. "When Koch was told, he said, 'Mug him again.'"

Morgenthau said that whether people lived on the East Side or in East Harlem, Koch wanted to try to keep them safe.

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