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Trying to get a fix on Kelly

December 3, 2001

One Police Plaza was a beehive of rumor last week - the higher the rank, the louder the buzz.

The buzz, of course, concerned the return of Ray Kelly as police commissioner, and whom he'll hire and fire.

On Friday, First Deputy Commissioner Joe Dunne memoed the top brass - all three-star chiefs and deputy commissioners - to hand in their resignations.

Dunne called the resignations pro forma. But one rank was omitted - the four-star position of Chief of Department Joe Esposito, who was said to have met with Kelly last week.

Since Kelly plays his cards close and since Team Bloomberg has prevented him from granting on-the- record interviews, here are the names of some of those Kelly might appoint.

Mike Farrell. A numbers- cruncher and spinmeister, Farrell headed the department's Office of Management and Planning in 1998 when he came up with FBI figures that he said showed New York City had the lowest per capita crime rate of any of the country's 25 largest cities - even while the FBI insisted that using its data to make such comparisons was "misleading." He and Kelly go back a decade.

Possible job description: Deputy Commissioner of Obfuscation.

John Scanlon. Scanlon, seen huddling with Kelly at the recent police Widows and Orphans dinner, retired earlier this year as Chief of Patrol after Commissioner Bernard Kerik dissed him by transferring him to the Transit Unit. Kelly attended Scanlon's retirement dinner.

Would Kelly savor bringing back someone Kerik dissed? Well, when Kelly endorsed Bloomberg, Bloomberg announced he and Kelly would "double-team" Kerik to persuade him to stay as commissioner. Kelly never did.

Walter Mack. The straight- laced former prosecutor was Kelly's answer to the Mollen Commission on police corruption when Kelly named him to head Internal Affairs in 1993. Sources say Mack is on Kelly's "meet" list although Mack said, "It's news to me."

Gene Devlin. The Staten Island borough commander retired earlier this year with a bum rap over his role in a sexual harassment scandal. Like Farrell, Devlin goes back years with Kelly. He also possesses what Kelly prizes most - loyalty.

Counseling for Cops. When the first jetliner struck the World Trade Center, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch, like many other officers, rushed to the site.

He arrived to see people jumping from the top floors to escape the flames.

"Some were jumping in groups of four and five. They were holding hands," Lynch said.

When the first tower collapsed, Lynch huddled in a corner outside the World Financial Center.

"A guy next to me was from the video unit filming the scene. Debris was coming down. Black smoke was choking us. You couldn't see. You couldn't breathe. Someone had the presence of mind to shoot out the window glass of the American Express building and we were able to get into the lobby," Lynch added.

So began an odyssey that still haunts Lynch. His experience mirrors that of other officers, who are undergoing counseling for the stresses of Sept. 11.

Although Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said the program is voluntary, such a mechanism, if Lynch's experience is representative, seems painfully necessary.

"The biggest crisis I see now," said Lynch "is getting cops to talk about it. Even now, cops have not had time to process its enormity."

Lynch said that while police officers deal with the threat of death everyday, the stress caused by Sept. 11 has made it tough for officers to maintain the balance "between keeping a strong exterior and keeping emotions in check."

"The big question when cops are talking is: 'I was at the site. Where were you?'" he said. "We have to talk through what we went through. To see people leaping out of buildings is especially hard for a cop. We are used to being the ones in control of situations."

Lynch said another thing that has been difficult for many officers is coming to grips with the fact that "the guy you went in with and partnered up with didn't come out."

"Glenn Pettit, with the video unit, was on the same corner as I was," Lynch said. "We were speaking. He was doing his job. He didn't come out and I did. That story can be recounted many, many times. If we knew the reason why things like this happened, we would be greater than we are."

Despite his call for openness, there is something Lynch cannot bring himself to say. Others told Newsday it was Lynch who fired through the glass of the American Express building.

It was the only time in his career he fired his weapon.

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© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.