It was just a gesture but it spoke volumes about how, after a decade of hostility, the NYPD was taking a new direction in dealing with other law enforcement agencies.
Take the Port Authority. Since 9/11, the NYPD and the Port Authority police [PAPD] have wrangled over control of Ground Zero.
Most famously, in 2006, the urban equivalent of a Mexican standoff occurred when the NYPD parked patrol cars round the clock outside the gates to Ground Zero's four entrances on West and Liberty Streets. Supposedly, the patrol cars had come to guard against terrorism.
Meanwhile, the PAPD parked its patrol cars inside the gates. They were guarding against the NYPD.
The years passed. Tensions between the two agencies waxed and waned but mostly waxed.
Then one night last November, across from the 9/ll Memorial Plaza, there appeared, as mysteriously as a Trojan horse, a massive van - a hi-tech mobile command center, with laptops, TVs, radios and telephones, which all bore the NYPD's giant logo.
The PAPD discovered it the next morning.
"They wouldn't tell us why it was there. They wouldn't move it," said PAPD Chief Joe Dunne, who had served as the NYPD's Chief of Department and First Deputy Commissioner under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Dunne took action. Directly behind the NYPD's van, he stationed a PAPD van -- a mobile command center with a spotlight and sensor cameras that was even more hi-tech than the NYPD's.
There they sat, one van behind the other, until Jan. 9, a week after Bill Bratton was sworn in as police commissioner and announced the new NYPD mantra: "Collaborate or Perish."
Chief James Waters, the commanding officer of the NYPD's Counter Terrorism Bureau, apparently got the message.
On Jan. 9, he telephoned the number two man at the PAPD to say the van was being removed.
"I can tell you the van is gone from the World Trade Center," said Dunne.
"Collaboration is the new buzz-word at Police Plaza. Waters said that 'in the spirit of collaboration,' they no longer have a need for it and are moving it."
Then, an hour after the NYPD removed its van, so did the PAPD.
THE NAIROBI MALL ATTACK [Con't]. More than one reader of last week's column about the four-day terrorist attack on a Nairobi, Kenya mall last fall that killed 67 people believes that the NYPD might have gotten it right when it suggested -- contrary to what Kenyan authorities and the FBI maintained - that the four terrorists escaped.
"If I had to make a choice between believing the FBI or the NYPD," wrote a retired NYPD officer, "I'd pick the men in blue most of the time."
Okay, let's for argument's sake assume the NYPD was correct.
What purpose was served in going public with its assessment, as the NYPD did to corporate security officials in New York City?
Was going public a way to make New York safer, as former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said when he went public with pasts Intelligence Division reports on overseas terrorist attacks, such as the London subway bombing in 2005?
The result of that: after Kelly revealed confidential information about the attack, British authorities cut off contact with the NYPD.
Or was going public about the Kenyan mall attack Kelly's way of taking a parting shot at the FBI before he retired?
Or part of his furtherance to establish the NYPD's - i.e., Ray Kelly's -- bona fides as an international terrorism-fighting entity?
If Kelly were truly interested in the safety of New Yorkers, why didn't he communicate the findings of the NYPD's Nairobi report privately to the FBI or the U.S. State Department?
What about the damage to Kenyan-American relations as Kenya has been supportive of U.S. terrorism-fighting efforts? Specifically Kenya's efforts against Al Qaeda in Somalia, which many believe precipitated the attack on the Nairobi mall?
Finally, what about danger in which the NYPD's public criticism has placed American citizens and officials working in Kenya?
THE BEST SHOW IN TOWN. Get your ringside seats for what is shaping up as the best show in town. That's the Bernie Kerik-Joe Tacopina imbroglio, which the Daily News has been previewing in living color.
Kerik, the NYPD's 40th police commissioner, has long maintained that Tacopina, his former friend, business partner and attorney, sold him down the river when Tacopina convinced him to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in the Bronx by admitting he accepted $165,000 in free renovations to his Bronx apartment.
By pleading guilty, Kerik says Tacopina told him his legal problems were all but over.
At a news conference outside the Bronx County courthouse in 2006 following Kerik's plea, Tacopina told reporters the same
Kerik's legal problems may have been over in the Bronx but they were just beginning with the feds, who, based on his guilty plea, charged him with two dozen felony counts.
Released last year from federal prison, where he served nearly four years after pleading guilty to eight of them, Kerik is now suing Tacopina, claiming before the disciplinary committee of the New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department, that besides misleading him into pleading guilty in the Bronx, Tacopina secretly provided evidence about him to the feds that they used against him.
Tacopina, who is considered a celebrity lawyer - [Most notably, he is representing Alex Rodriquez in his suit against Major League Baseball.] fired back at Kerik, threatening a $5 million libel suit. He did not return a call from this reporter.
As for the News's sympathetic portrayal of Kerik's lawsuit: remember this: its coverage of Kerik's past transgressions, financial and otherwise, was more aggressive than anyone else's. Reporter Russ Buettner, now with the Times, broke the story of Kerik's apartment renovations, as well as his free Ground Zero lodgings and courtship of Judith Regan and other lassies.
THE SLICKEST DUDE. With the appointment of Rachel Noerdlinger as chief-of-staff to Mayor de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, Al Sharpton has risen to even higher heights.
Noerdlinger has for years been Sharpton's spokeswoman and adviser.
Her hiring [and $170,000 salary], provides an indication of the influence Sharpton might wield within the de Blasio's administration.
Noerdlinger -- who as Sharpton's spokeswoman professed to always return Your Humble Servant's inquiries -- did not return an email, asking whether City Hall would permit her to continue working for Sharpton, paid or unpaid.
As for the Rev himself, there is simply no one like him.
From his having been an FBI informant, to his lies about Tawana Brawley and his anti-Semitism during the Crown Heights riots, to say nothing of his owing the government hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, he has risen to a position of such eminence and respectability that he has his own TV show on MSNBC, speaks with President Obama, was fawned over by former mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly and is similarly treated by Bratton.
Now with Noerdlinger's hiring, he may well hold the keys to the city.
There is only one word that can express his success: Congratulations.
Correction: This piece incorrectly referred to James Waters as "Assistant Chief." It should be: "Chief James Waters."