The NYPD’s P. Diddy Connection
November 13, 2006
Let’s further examine Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s “Presidential Excellence and Diversity Award” from the Sepia Skin Care company at Justin’s Restaurant in Manhattan. The restaurant is owned by Sean [P. Diddy] Combs, who received Sepia’s “Chairman’s Entrepreneurial” award at the same event.
According to a press release from Sepia — which calls itself “an all natural shea butter based beauty line” — the October 4 awards launched Sepia’s product line for distribution the following day.
“It was a nice event,” Sepia’s owner, Lorene Cowan, told Your Humble Servant of the Kelly-Combs awards.
Combs is, of course, the rapper and mogul extraordinaire who sets fashion trends with his own fashion line, and who has produced top rap albums as the founder of Bad Boy records.
As its name suggests, Bad Boy, like the rap industry itself, reflects a culture and lifestyle that glorifies guns and violence, a combustible mixture to most law enforcement officials.
Why Kelly would lend the prestige of his office to promote a cosmetics line while allying himself with Combs and the rap world remains unclear.
Take Combs’s arrest in 1999 on gun and bribery charges for a shooting inside a midtown nightclub that injured three people. After the shooting, he fled the club in a Lincoln Navigator, together with his bodyguard Anthony Jones, his driver Wardel Fenderson, and his then girlfriend, the movie star and singer Jennifer Lopez.
Jones was also charged with gun and bribery charges.
Combs’s protégé Jamal Barrow, a rap artist known as Shyne, was charged with firing wildly inside the nightclub and injuring three bystanders.
Two years later Combs and Jones were acquitted of all charges at a well-publicized trial that, as the Times reported, featured Combs wandering the halls, dressed in “winter-white suits with silk handkerchiefs or khakis and sweaters from his own clothing line, signing autographs while his publicists and security guards trailed after him.”
Barrow was found guilty of five of the eight charges against him.
On October 20, two weeks after the Kelly-Combs awards, the rapper Fabulous was shot in the parking lot at Justin’s. A surveillance tape reportedly showed an unidentified gunman firing 10 rounds, one of which struck Fabulous in the thigh.
Police arrested Fabulous, whose real name is Skylar John Jackson, and his entourage after they fled the scene in their white Dodge Magnum, and charged them with having two unlicensed and loaded handguns in the car.
Kelly himself announced that, inside the car, police had found the two loaded handguns, one fully loaded and the other with one bullet missing.
So what message was Kelly — who makes no move lightly — sending when he accepted Sepia’s award with Combs at Justin’s? Here are some possibilities:
Was Kelly attempting to enlist P. Diddy in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign to reduce the number of gun permits?
Was Kelly reaching out to the rap community in his incipient bid for mayor?
Was he seeking the rap world’s assistance in fighting terrorists?
Was he attempting to one-up his past successor, Bill Bratton, who was known for hobnobbing with celebrities at his upper east side hangout, Elaine’s?
Was he attempting to outdo Bratton’s successor Howard Safir, caught on national television at the Oscars in Hollywood the night before a city council hearing on the murder of Amadou Diallo that Safir had claimed he could not attend because of a “scheduling conflict”?
Asked for an explanation, neither Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne nor his assistant, the recently resurrected two-star chief Michael Collins, returned phone calls.
In 2002, Kelly killed the annual dinner of the Finest Foundation of police buffs because it sold tickets, offering a $50,000 “Commissioner’s Package.” He said at the time he objected to the implication that access to his office could be purchased.
But in the past five years, he seems to have metamorphosised into quite another person. Maybe it’s time for reporters and editors to stop treating his return to the NYPD as the Second Coming and begin asking him some hard questions.
This story involves the Police Museum, the baby of former police commissioner Howard Safir and his wife Carole. The Safirs have labored to keep the museum financially afloat while maintaining control of its agenda.
Last week, the museum honored two police officers for their service to the city and to the country. The first, Kevin Whelan of Manhattan North anti-crime, received two bronze stars and a purple heart for service in Iraq. The second, Det. John Quinn of the Counter Terrorism Division, served in Iraq twice — in the current conflict and in Desert Storm more than a decade ago.
But their awards did not apparently sit well with Kelly. Word has it, he objected to his lack of a role in selecting them as honorees.
Word also has it that Kelly felt he did not receive a “proper” invitation to the ceremony.
While Safir attended, Kelly did not.
Nor did he send a representative.
Or a note of congratulations.
Copyright © 2006 Leonard Levitt