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No cracking Kelly's inner circle of one

January 20, 2003

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly acted as though he hasn't given much thought to appointing a new chief of detectives on Friday.

Asked about his choice at a news conference after Medal Day ceremonies, he said current chief Bill Allee wasn't retiring until the middle of next month, so "there is time."

Kelly's remark may indicate the value he ascribes to one of the department's five top jobs - not very much.

In fact, Kelly's year-long tenure is notable for devaluing all the department's top jobs.

Whereas his predecessors - Bill Bratton, Howard Safir and Bernard Kerik - all relied on their top chiefs, in part because they didn't know the job as well as he does, Kelly relies on only one person: Ray Kelly.

While he focuses on terrorism and burnishes his image, his closest advisers are all civilians: the former spook, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen; the former Marine general, Deputy Commissioner for Counter-Terrorism Frank Libutti; the former Merrill Lynch vice chairman, Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Stephen Hammerman; and the all-purpose Kelly factotum, Deputy Commissioner for Administration Paul Browne.

Meanwhile, the top chiefs in the Police Department have become second-class citizens.

At the same time, crime overall and homicides in particular have fallen to record lows, so what's to criticize?

With that as background, here's some speculation on who might succeed Allee as chief of detectives. As under Kelly the position is all but ceremonial, some say he will make it a "first" - perhaps the first female or minority chief.

Some say this could be Joanne Jaffee, the department's highest-ranking female. Jaffee currently works in the office of Policy and Planning under yet another civilian, Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Initiatives Michael Farrell.

Or Kelly could move Jaffee to the three-star spot of chief of personnel, while making its current chief, Rafael Pineiro, chief of detectives. That way, Kelly gets two firsts: a woman in a three-star spot and a Hispanic officer as chief of detectives.

Then there are the hardscrabble detective bureau candidates, such as Staten Island Borough Chief Anthony Marra, said to be a protege of the former borough president Guy Molinari.

It was Molinari who arranged Kelly's unsuccessful last-ditch meeting in 1994 with Rudy Giuliani to save his job as commissioner when Giuliani became mayor.

On the other hand, Kelly didn't hesitate to cancel Molinari's one man "security" detail, consisting of a driver, when it was made public.

There's also dark-house candidate Gary McCarthy, deputy commissioner of operations, and one of the few police officials whose advise Kelly considers.

Another is Chief of Department Joe Esposito, who runs the entire Second Class Citizen operation but who is said to have difficulty getting a cop transferred without Kelly's approval.

Caution: These selections are purely cop talk. No one knows what's in Kelly's mind but Kelly.

Image and Reality. It's easy to present yourself as a man on a white horse when taking on a two-bit operation like the Finest Foundation.

When Kelly learned that the Finest's annual dinner advertised a $50,000 "Commissioner's Package" granting donors the "opportunity to have high-ranking law enforcement officials seated at your table," he cited an appearance of impropriety and forbade officers to attend, forcing the organization to cancel the dinner. The Foundation lost $50,000 in pre-dinner expenses and returned $250,000 in contributions.

But what happens when the still powerful former mayor embarrasses the department by scamming the city into providing him with a round-the-clock detective detail 15 months after leaving office?

Kelly remains silent, hiding behind platitudes of "threats" and "security."

Last week, Kelly kept silent as Giuliani traveled to Mexico City with a $4.3-million contract to advise the police there on how to stop the bad guys, while being protected by a contingent of NYPD detectives, who were supposedly guarding him against unknown attackers, possibly the same bad guys.

Kelly refuses to explain why the department continues to foot the bill.

A Welcome for Johnnie. Your Humble Servant set out last week to bid welcome to John Miller, who gave up a $2-million television job with Barbara Walters to join Bill Bratton in Hollywood - oops, at the Los Angeles Police Department.

We discovered that Miller, whose wife is expecting a baby girl, spent his first night in L.A. at the home of a film producer couple, then blinked in the dawn at 4:30 a.m. as he headed off to his first day of work.

After we called his office at the LAPD, an officer left the following message: "At this time, Mr. Miller is not taking requests for interviews. He is just starting his job, devoting the first couple of weeks to focusing on his assignments. My recommendation is to contact us again in February when he gets a little more settled."

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© 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.