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Unhinged over doors?

November 12, 2004

With Bernard Kerik sweating out a possible appointment to the Department of Homeland Security, perhaps now is the time for Ray Kelly to put up or shut up about his investigation into Kerik's purchase of four $50,000 high-tech security doors at One Police Plaza while Kerik was commissioner.

In July, Kelly's spokesman, Paul Browne, announced that the department's Internal Affairs Bureau was investigating whether the doors were improperly ordered, as the department could find no records of their purchase. The doors were eventually found at Rikers Island.

Kerik, the former Correction commissioner before heading the NYPD, has denied wrongdoing, his aides maintaining they may have cut bureaucratic corners because then-Deputy Commissioner for Management and Budget Joe Wuensch was unable to improve police buildings. Kerik later fired Wuensch. Kelly, in one of his first moves after succeeding Kerik, rehired Wuensch as his chief of staff.

Resentments between Kerik and Kelly were stoked last week over the release to The New York Times of a list of honorary commissioners appointed by Kerik, including his publisher, Judith Regan.

In the article, Kelly claimed that he appointed no honorary commissioners in his second term as commissioner. Perhaps he forgot Michael Stern of the Intrepid Foundation. How does Stern rate such an honor? Neither Stern nor the department's office of public information returned a phone call.

Favorites and flunkies. Every commissioner since Bill Bratton has been able to hire a high-priced flunky. He is called the deputy commissioner of administration.

Some, like Peter LaPorte, whom Bratton brought from Boston, worked like hell in that job. Ditto Browne, who a decade ago trailed Kelly halfway around the globe before Kelly hired him as his first deputy commissioner of administration when Kelly became police commissioner in 2002.

As for others - like former commissioner Howard Safir's buddies Richie Sheirer and Al McNeil - well, let's just say no one ever figured out what they did, if anything.

Earlier this year, after Browne moved to the public information office, Kelly replaced him with Charlie DeRienzo at a salary of $153,557.

Kelly is so fond of DeRienzo that, when Kelly became commissioner, he personally lobbied New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey to appoint DeRienzo chief of Port Authority Police. He also allowed DeRienzo's detective son, Donald, to remain on the job after Donald allowed his civilian girlfriend to ride in his radio car while on patrol, then became involved in a car accident he did not report.

In March, DeRienzo was eased out of his Port Authority job and Kelly hired him.

At the time, DeRienzo told The Associated Press that as deputy commissioner of administration, he would serve as a liaison with other law enforcement agencies on terrorism.

"My goal would be to bring all of us into one team effort in fighting terrorism in this area so terrorists will take a look here and decide this is not the place to come," he said.

That, however, has not come to pass. Instead, Kelly has created a position for DeRienzo. He heads what is being called the "facilities management division," which overseas the Building Maintenance, the Plant Management and Headquarters Custodial sections.

Pay day. Aaron Wong, 22, a black man from Staten Island, has filed a federal discrimination suit in Brooklyn stemming from his arrest and alleged beating by a white former NYPD cop, James Mangone.

The suit seeks $10 million in damages and, according to his lawyer, Alan D. Levine, will try to answer these questions:

Why did Officer Young Yoo of the 120th Precinct arrest Wong and not Mangone, who broke Wong's jaw?

Who were the two civilians with Mangone, one of whom had a gun, the other whom Yoo allowed to handcuff Wong when Yoo arrested him?

Who were the officers with Yoo when he made the arrest?

Why was Wong's girlfriend, Brooke Lopez, who called 911 during the attack, never interviewed by police on the scene?

The case is being investigated by a Staten Island unit that reports to the chief of Patrol. IAB is monitoring.

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© 2004 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.