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Kelly's sad, new regime

March 25, 2005

Although polls reveal New Yorkers regard Ray Kelly as the most popular police commissioner in recent history, detectives in his detail are bailing out.

The P.C.'s detail is considered the most prestigious in the department, but no fewer than 14 detectives have quit since Kelly became commissioner for the second time in 2002. Police officials say only two of the original team remain.

The reason, as explained by a police source: "The detectives in the detail thought they were joining the old Kelly. The old Kelly was nowhere to be found."

Bitter at his dismissal a decade ago by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Kelly has returned to the NYPD and taken the weight of the world on his shoulders, says a former top police official and Kelly confidante. Longtime friends are friends no longer.

Take Sgt. Manny Lopez, one of the Kelly detail's two original supervisors, each of whom has quit.

Lopez was a detective during "the old regime," a reference to Kelly's first term as commissioner in the early 1990s when Kelly was informal enough that he sometimes cooked for the detail in the P.C.'s office.

Lopez was considered so devoted to Kelly that Kelly's successor, William Bratton, dismissed him from the P.C.'s detail, believing Lopez's first loyalty was not to the office of the commissioner, but to Kelly.

When Kelly returned three years ago, he turned to Lopez to organize his detail. But a year ago - after the midnight shooting in Brooklyn of Timothy Stansbury, a black teenager, by Richard Neri, a white cop - Kelly blamed Lopez for not alerting him immediately and waiting instead until the next morning, police sources say.

Police sources say Kelly retaliated against Lopez by returning another sergeant to the detail whom Kelly had dismissed some months before. Lopez filed for retirement.

Police sources say Kelly next focused on Lopez's supervisor, Lt. John Lyke, whom Lopez had recruited, berating him for seemingly minor lapses.

"One day Kelly would accuse the detail of walking too close to him," said a police source. "Another day, Kelly would accuse the detail of walking too far ahead."

Kelly then had the Internal Affairs Bureau begin an investigation into Lopez's and Lyke's overtime, sources say.

Said Tony Garvey of the Lieutenants' Benevolent Association, which defended Lyke, "I would not say the investigation focused only on Lopez and Lyke. It was a broad sweep to ensure compliance of the same standards that exist elsewhere in the department."

The investigation was dropped as "unfounded," police officials told Newsday. Lyke then filed for retirement.

"Instead of shaking their hands when they left," said a police source, "Kelly dragged them through the mud."

The unit is now headed by Insp. Michael Shea, a lawyer and MBA. Shea is said to do the detail's recruiting, not always successfully.

Last year, Shea recruited Det. Mike Meehan, but Meehan never made it through the 60-day temporary assignment. He quit and now works for Giuliani.

Through intermediaries, Lopez and Lyke declined to comment. Through Giuliani's spokeswoman Sunny Mindel, Meehan also declined to comment. Silence from Shea and Kelly.

Elected. Neri has been elected a Patrolmen's Benevolent Association delegate.

Publicity for Neri's election was apparently the last thing the union sought when it occurred a month ago, as it made no formal announcement. He will become one of the PBA's 390 union delegates.

A grand jury dismissed murder charges against Neri in connection with the Stansbury shooting, concluding that Neri shot him accidentally.

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© 2005 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.