Bernard Kerik, once a beat cop in New York's Times Square, will take over as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, according to news reports Thursday.

Kerik, 49, a New Jersey native who was the New York City police commissioner under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Sept. 11, 2001, worked last year in Iraq at the White House's behest, helping organize Iraqi police forces. He now is a partner in Giuliani's consulting firm.

He will replace Tom Ridge, who

submitted his resignation earlier this week as the first secretary of the department, which was elevated to Cabinet-level status in January 2003.