Crime Blotter

NYPD’s Annual Smoker ‘Stranger Than Gallery Opening’

The seamless cooperation between the NYPD and the FDNY that we’ve been witnessing since Sept. 11 seemed abruptly to come to an end around 9 p.m. on April 12, when a cop known as “The White Rhino” connected with a roundhouse right and sent Dennis Reilly, a firefighter with Engine Co. 156, staggering to the canvas.

The event was the annual 19th Precinct Smoker-an evening of boxing matches at the Seventh Regiment Armory that raises money for charity and doubles as a reunion for cops from commands throughout the city, who consume generous (but, of course, responsible) quantities of beer and produce copious amounts of cigar smoke.

However, not everyone was in on the bonhomie. “You really don’t want to know what I think,” said Mirage (which isn’t her real name, but close enough), a dancer from Scores who was donating thong time as one of several hyper-talented ring girls. “With all honesty, I would never date one of these guys-they’re not, like, my type.” Mirage said she goes for the artistic type. “You think these guys are artistic?” she asked rhetorically. “They’re beating the living crap out of each other.”

She had a point. But outside the ring, there were legions of gentlemanly and gentlewomanly cops. One of them was Tyrone, a detective assigned to Manhattan North Narcotics, who preferred not to divulge his last name, since he works undercover in Washington Heights doing drug buys and busts.

“The guy’s got more stories than Mark Twain,” attested one of his buddies. And, indeed, Tyrone did: One of them involved being chased several city blocks recently by a mob of 40 or so irate bat- and stick-wielding thugs after a drug buy went bad. However, Tyrone insisted that such incidents are the exception to the rule.

“They’re very polite in Washington Heights,” the police officer said of the dealers. “They’re all business. They just want to make their money and that’s it.”

For obvious reasons, there were no drug dealers to arrest in the vicinity of the armory, and the spirit was much more one of charity than commerce. Drew Roth, a downtown artist, was handing out free posters he’d done in tribute to the NYPD. He said that when he’d been invited to the event by Thomas Hackett, the 19th Precinct detective who organizes the annual smoker, he had no conception of the epic, gladiatorial nature of the evening.

“I go to gallery openings, and those are strange events,” he confided. “But this is stranger than that.”

Manhole Troubles

What with the unfortunate state of world affairs, it would have been logical to assume that the damage suffered by the Council on Foreign Relations on East 68th Street on March 31 had something to do with geopolitics. This is perhaps just what the esteemed international organization itself assumed when it filed a crime report at the 19th Precinct. The staff apparently returned to work after the weekend and noticed that several windows on the 68th Street side of the council’s building were broken; they attributed the damage to “unknown perps or natural occurrence.” However, they were wrong on both counts.

The cause of the breakage turned out to be that most quintessential of New York events-an exploding manhole cover. At approximately 1 p.m. that Sunday afternoon, a cover located in front of the building blew, and the force of the blast broke the windows. The police responded by temporarily closing down eastbound traffic on 68th Street, as well as rerouting bus service.

Con Edison also responded to the scene, estimating that it would take nine to 10 hours to repair the damage. However, there were no power outages as a result of the incident and no injuries-physical, diplomaticor otherwise.

Flawed Exit Strategy

One can’t really blame illegal sidewalk merchants for fleeing when they see the cops coming. However, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it. One ground-level entrepreneur apparently took the wrong approach to making his getaway on April 1.

The suspect, who was spotted by the cops at 12:55 p.m. plying purses off a sheet he’d set up at 60th Street and Madison Avenue, quickly attempted to gather his belongings and depart. However, in the process of doing so, he ran over a pedestrian, compounding his crime and undoubtedly costing himself precious seconds. Luckily for him, the victim chose not to press charges. Unluckily for him, a police officer was able to catch up with him.

When the perp realized that he had been cornered, he probably should have thrown in the proverbial towel-or the proverbial imitation Gucci handbag-and paid his debt to society. However, this guy, a 58-year-old resident of Beach Street in Manhattan, apparently decided that free-market principles hung in the balance and continued to wrestle with the cop who was trying to cuff him.

The officer eventually won, and came out of the scuffle without injury to himself. But the sidewalk merchant fared less well. He was removed to New York-Presbyterian Hospital complaining of leg pain. Upon his release, he found himself facing not only the original charge of selling goods without a vendor’s license, but also resisting arrest.

Play Ball

One of the fastest ways to antagonize a dog owner is to intervene in the game of catch she’s playing with her pooch. One hapless pedestrian learned this firsthand on April 1. The victim, a 46-year-old East End Avenue resident, was walking her dogs along 82nd Street and the East River at 6:40 a.m. when another dog walker tossed a tennis ball in her direction for her own canine to fetch.

The Marquis of Queensbury’s rules-or whatever governing body oversees games of catch-suggest that in such cases, one should let the pet retrieve the object in question. However, the East End Avenue resident, apparently believing she was performing some sort of public service, leaned over and picked up the ball to return to the other woman, thus depriving the pet of fun, exercise and, arguably, self-esteem.

The ball-tossing perp apparently was so incensed that she forcefully grabbed the ball out of the good Samaritan’s hands, causing the victim to sustain bruises to the top of her right hand. The victim promptly proceeded to the 19th Precinct, where she filed an assault complaint.