One real special July 4th for Bernard B Kerik, an American of extraordinary accomplishment celebrates his first Independence Day in four years. He has been released from prison. I met Bernie back in the early ’90’s when I was working on a memorial to slain police officers in NYC. Bernie Kerik was an undercover narcotics cop in the Bronx. He was a fearless, highly respected, adored by his troops, brilliant law enforcement officer and is one of the most accomplished human beings I’ll likely ever know. He’d already gotten a Presidential Commendation from Reagan for racing to a burning building, pulling himself up a rope, then rappelling down to save the lives of ten occupants, one after the other, carrying them on his back to safety before firemen arrived.
As decor for his dangerous undercover work, Bernie sported ten diamond stud earrings, a long ponytail of straight dark hair, a weightlifter’s physique in Armani suits, and a Rolex. But what was inside this Irish Russian American was pure, energetic, unrivaled fight for justice and protecting the population he cared for with a big heart.
Bernie served in Korea, learned fluent Farsi and served in the middle east, and a multitude of secret places to ferret out corruption and put drug dealers out work and into jail, and went on to higher and better, NYPD Police Commissioner when he helped secure NYC after 9/11, and was then recommended for the head of Homeland Security. The country would feel safe now if Bernie had gotten the job.
Unfortunately operating like a NYer, hiring an illegal immigrant housekeeper, and some wheeling and dealing for himself came to the attention of a hell of a lot of enemies, a jealous legal system and vicious courts. Bernie was sentenced to four years in prison for allegedly taking $250,000 in work on his house, from mobbed up contractors he allegedly did favors for.
I suspect a new book, following his autobiographical account of rough growing up on the back streets of New Jersey with a prostitute mother (found beaten to death when he was a kid), will be coming out one of these days to fill in the gaps since his arrest and time served.
Bernie, the world has changed while you were away. I suggest you read up on what’s been going on in your absence. Then run for President. The country needs you more than ever. Happy Independence Day to you and your wife and your kids, old buddy. Welcome back.