Kerik: Better At Morale Building Than Follow-Up?


How can Bernard Kerik apply his police management experience to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security? The New York Times cites the three and a half months he spent in Iraq in 2003 trying to build a police force. He had hoped to use his familiar statistical measures and tactics but he found the situation too chaotic and violent. He won praise for rebuilding police offices, inspiring recruits, and visiting dangerous areas. Some criticized him for seeming to focus more on seeking publicity than meeting goals like expanding training programs for new Iraqi police officers. “He was terrific about inspiring people and creating a goal, but he was often not very good about following up and getting it done,” said one former American official.

“I don’t think we really know what the qualifications are for the chief of Homeland Security,” said Jerome H. Skolnick, a New York University law professor who is an expert on police practices. “Certainly the administration first thought being a governor gave you the qualifications. This time we have somebody who’s been the lead executive of what is probably the chief police department in the western world. My own sense is that it is a better qualification than being a governor. But it all depends on the person and the personality.” It is unclear how much of Kerik’s success as a crime-fighter stemmed from his skill and how much from policies set up by previous police commissioners.


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