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Kelly's Way to Run a Railroad

December 18, 2006

Let’s try and get this straight. The NYPD hosts a two-day terrorism conference last week, supposedly about how home-grown terrorists can smuggle a bomb into the city via a commuter train. Law enforcement agencies from upstate New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are invited.

But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, whose cops patrol the Long Island and Metro-North railroads which serve Connecticut and the northern suburbs, and whose trains bring thousands of commuters each day into Penn and Grand Central stations, were neither invited nor alerted.

Nor, so far as this column could determine, did Police Commissioner Ray Kelly invite the Port Authority police, whose PATH trains bring thousands more into the city from New Jersey.

In addition, Kelly announced at the conference that, in 2004, he had sent NYPD cops to board Metro-North trains in Poughkeepsie to travel to Grand Central to test the system’s vulnerability to bombers.

But Kelly never alerted the MTA about that either. William Morange, the head of MTA’s police and a retired three-star NYPD chief, did not learn of it until last week when he read about it in newspaper reports of the conference.

The NYPD’s Chief Michael Collins told the Daily News that miffed MTA officials who complained about not being invited to the conference were “uninformed,” adding that they were routinely informed about such terrorism matters through the Joint Terrorist Task Force, an FBI-led communal body of law enforcement agencies in place for the past 25 years.

No one bothered to ask Big Mike about the Port Authority shut-out.

OK, so what’s going on here? Why hold this highly-publicized conference on suburban terrorist railroad bombers if the agencies most responsible for protecting the hundreds of thousands coming into the city by rail are not informed?

This column has long pointed out that Commissioner Kelly’s anti-terrorism measures seem concerned not merely with fighting terrorism but with inflating his already outsized ego.

One need only recall last September’s terrorism conference co-sponsored by the Manhattan Institute at the Roosevelt Hotel to commemorate the 5th anniversary of 9/11. Participants included top tier law enforcement officials from around the country. The NYPD initially co-sponsored the event. But at literally the last minute, it pulled out and held a rival terrorism conference at One Police Plaza.

Why? Hard as it may be to believe, law enforcement officials attending the Manhattan Institute’s conference say Kelly cut out when he realized he’d be sharing the spotlight with others – in particular former NYPD commissioner and current LAPD Chief Bill Bratton, whom Kelly hasn’t forgiven for taking his job in 1994.

NYPD sources say that last week’s conference was led by the department’s Intelligence Division. This is the body Kelly has touted as revolutionizing the department’s fight against terrorism by such innovations as stationing NYPD detectives overseas.

It is also the body Kelly uses to stick his thumb in the eye of other agencies he feels have slighted him. These include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Port Authority, and now apparently the MTA.

Readers of this column may recall that in 2003 Intel sent NYPD detectives to bribe New Jersey scuba shop operators to test whether they were vulnerable to terrorists without alerting local Jersey law enforcement officials. When the scuba owners notified them, they ordered the NYPD detectives out of the state.

Intel also sent detectives to Massachusetts to infiltrate a protest group for the Republican National Convention without alerting local authorities. Mass State police followed the detectives, stopped them on the Mass pike for speeding, and nearly arrested them.

In 2002 Intel detectives conducted an undercover anti-terrorist operation at Newark Airport, which is the purview of Port Authority police. An Intel sergeant was nearly arrested by Port Authority police after he told a PA officer who questioned him to “get lost.”

Kelly’s relations with the Port Authority have not improved since then. Walk over to the site of the World Trade Center, where NYPD police cars sit just outside the gates to the four entrances, supposedly checking for terror-related threats. Just inside the gates sit PA cops, doing the same thing.

Since Kelly has taken office, the city’s media has swallowed without question all manner of terrorism-related swill that Kelly and his spokesman, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne, have served up as as fact.

That may be changing. Last week, the News, noting the absence of the MTA at his latest terrorism conference, ran a story with the headline: “Kelly terror-meet shuts out MTA.”

The story ran on page 42. Sooner or later the News’ editors might begin to realize that stories like these — rather than those about Judith Regan — belong on page 1.

Come In, Richie.
Richard Hartman, former counsel to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, has gone AWOL. People are growing concerned.

On his best days, on Long Island, Richie worked literally round the clock for his members. He slept on a couch in his office while providing the police unions he represented with the highest salaries in the nation.

On his worst, in New York City, Richie hired a private investigator who bribed people not to testify against NYPD cops. The investigator, Walter Cox, died in Riker’s Island.

Richie made and lost millions, gambling at casinos, squandering half a million dollars in PBA money.

In the late 1990s, he, his partner Jim Lysaght, and transit police union chief Ron Reale were convicted of bribery and extortion.

They and others all served time in federal prison, where Richie taught math to inmates.

More recently, he moved to Florida and reunited with Lysaght.

Then he stopped answering his cell phone.

Concerned friends contacted Newsday, where Your Humble Servant formerly hung his hat.

This column offered to help.

Richie, please call home.

Notes From Buff-land. Buff-landers — nearly all of whom Kelly has shut out in the police placard, badge and honorary commissioner line — remain in shock and awe at Kelly’s attendance at the annual dinner of Reggie Ward’s New York Law Enforcement Foundation.

But Kelly and Ward, the éminence grise of the Mount Vernon police department, have a history. As police commissioner under David Dinkins — which buffs refer to as Kelly 37, denoting him as the department’s 37th commissioner — Kelly awarded but one honorary deputy commissionership. He gave it to Ward.

His award followed some lobbying by Rodney Ettman, the head of another Buff-land group, The Finest Foundation, of which Ward was then a member.

But alliances are fluid in Buff-land. A few years later, Ward left the Finest and formed his own group.

Kelly 41, meanwhile, boycotted The Finest’s annual “Chief’s Night” after the group offered a $50,000 table for ten, calling it a “commissioner’s package.” The Finest had to cancel the dinner, at the Hotel Pierre, costing it its $40,000 deposit.

As for Reggie’s dinner, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Browne did not respond to a phone call asking whether the chiefs and deputy commissioners who accompanied Kelly paid for themselves or whether Reggie comped them.

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Copyright © 2006 Leonard Levitt