A former FDNY official shed light on a troubling back-room practice that helped white firefighter candidates get hired despite having criminal records.
A sworn deposition by Patricia Kavaler, an assistant commissioner for personnel in 2004, contained the explosive revelations.
Kavaler's statement was entered into evidence yesterday in Brooklyn Federal Court, where a group representing black firefighters is trying to get a special monitor to oversee reform in the Fire Department.
She recalled FDNY brass lobbying members of a review board that decides whether to overlook candidates' sketchy pasts.
"This is 'boys being boys,'" Kavaler said in describing the calls from firefighters vouching for the candidates. "That sort of thing."
In blunt language, Kavaler described how the calls went:
"You would have lieutenants and captains. . . . 'This is the son of so and so. I lived next-door to him for years, he's a good guy.'
"'He beat his wife but his wife took him back so he shouldn't be considered a wife beater,'" she said in her 2008 statement, describing the types of calls made on behalf of troubled white candidates. "'He still could be a good firefighter.'"
Some were willing to stick their necks out for the questionable potential hires. "And people would say, 'I know this guy, his son has got to come on the job, I will vouch for him,' " she recalled.
Kavaler also noted that the names of candidates who were before the review board were leaked by members of her staff.
Another FDNY official was grilled about the hiring of two white former cops who beat murder raps in the infamous police shooting of Amadou Diallo.
Dean Tow, director of candidate investigations for the FDNY, was asked about former NYPD cops Richard Murphy and Edward McMellon. They got jobs at the FDNY after they were cleared by a jury of gunning down Diallo.
"Did you have any concern that, perhaps, in shooting an innocent civilian ['the cops'] judgment, while although not criminal, may have been faulty?" asked lawyer Richard Levy, counsel for the Vulcan Society.
"No," Tow replied tersely.
The Vulcan Society wants Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis to order changes in the way the FDNY recruits candidates and vets them. It also wants the monitor to reform the way the department investigates discrimination complaints lodged by minority firefighters.
Garaufis has previously ruled that the last two written firefighter tests were discriminatory against minorities.
In the coming days, Garaufis will hear testimony from black firefighters about racial hatred in city firehouses.