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Tennis, Anyone? Not For Some NYPD Chiefs

September 1, 2008

A half-dozen top brass, including a couple of three-star chiefs, won’t be attending the U.S. Tennis Open this year.

Or if they do, they won’t be guests of Joe Dippell Jr.

Dippell is president of the Centurions, one of the smaller police foundations of wealthy buffs who raise money for the department. In return, the buffs get the thrill of a lifetime: they get to meet police officers.

Under some past commissioners, the buffs received perks, such as police badges or parking placards. Bernie Kerik made Dennis Schnur — a former member of another group of buffs, the Finest Foundation — an honorary commissioner after he provided free gym equipment for the P.C.’s office.

Now let’s talk about Dippell, who made his fortune with the New York Stock Exchange. Besides helping the Centurions raise thousands of dollars for the department, he hosted some top brass in his box at last year’s U.S. Open.

Problem: police officers, whether cops or top brass, are not permitted to accept gifts or gratuities totaling more than $50. Since the days of the Knapp Commission, cops cannot even accept a free cup of coffee.

Let’s just say that the price of entry to Dippell’s box at Arthur Ashe Stadium costs more than a cup of coffee.

Just how the department learned about Dippell’s top brass freeloaders remains a mystery. Some have suggested that cops assigned to the Open might have dropped a dime.

Sources said that Internal Affairs Chief Charles Campisi began asking questions. but that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly took no disciplinary action. Rather, the sources say, Kelly placed letters of reprimand in some of their personnel files, which is tantamount to doing nothing.

Because Your Humble Servant does not seek to embarrass anyone [at least in this instance], we’ll omit the name of the top brass — at least temporarily.

One of them said he had not received a letter. “I have had them before,” he said. “You actually get a letter signed by the P.C. But if they put something in your file, they tell you. And they haven’t told me anything.”

Kelly is known for his double standard in disciplining cops versus the top brass.

Recall Inspector Robert Wheeler, who, in December 2005, shot a robbery suspect in Washington D.C but never reported the shooting to the local police. [He told them only he had been robbed.] Wheeler then fled to New York where he waited two days before coming clean.

Kelly took no action against him until this column wondered why not. Kelly then placed Wheeler on modified assignment at full pay, and allowed him to retire with no consequences.

At the same time, since returning as police commissioner in 2002, Kelly has come down hard on the police buffs.

In December 2003, he cancelled his appearance at the Finest Foundation’s annual “Chief’s Night” dinner at the Pierre. Kelly’s reason for canceling: the Finest had advertised a “commissioner’s table” for $50, 000, which he said implied that access to the police commissioner could be bought.

The Centurions have also taken some hits from Kelly. In 2004, he stripped Dippell, Centurion president Al Fried, and Treasurer Robert Fagenson of the lights and sirens on their cars after Mayor Mike spotted Fried driving his black Crown Victoria with lights and sirens blazing

Mayor Mike, readers will recall, has a thing about lights and sirens. He also nabbed Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen tooling up the West Side Highway with his lights and sirens blazing. Kelly, though, maintained Cohen was on police business.

As for Dippell, a police official said of him, “He has no agenda and asks nothing in return. The love of his life is to hang around the police.”

Kelly has issued a warning to him and to the top brass: no more tennis matches in Dippell’s box.

As Dippell put it, “My orders are there are no cops in my suite.”

Kelly’s warning was apparently so severe that Dippell contacted a lawyer. “My lawyer says I can’t say anything,” Dippell said.

The lawyer, Richard Dienst, did not return a call seeking comment.

Bill’s Way or Ray’s? The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association selected John Miller as its man of the year for its annual convention last week.

In honoring Miller, the former Deputy Commissioner for Public Information under Bill Bratton, was the PBA needling Commissioner Kelly?

You be the judge.

Miller was forced to resign in 1995 after just one year as head of DCPI because former mayor Rudy Giuliani felt Miller had praised Bratton too lavishly for reducing crime while ignoring Rudy.

Miller then became a world-class correspondent for ABC television, where before 9/11 he interviewed Osama Bin Laden in his cave in Afghanistan.

When Bratton became Los Angeles Police Chief in 2002, he appointed Miller to head its Intelligence Division. Since 2005, Miller has been an Assistant Director of the FBI and head of its Public Information office.

Ever the diplomat, Miller in his remarks to the PBA praised both Kelly and Bratton. He cited Kelly’s contributions in fighting terrorism and Bratton’s having “developed the systems” that led to the crime turnaround.

Here’s the problem.

These days Kelly is telling the public that it was he and no one else who engineered the crime turnaround.

Note the following front page article from the New York Times, our paper of record, of Nov 29, 2007, heralding the decline in homicides to below 500.

Under the headline, “City Homicides Still Dropping, to Under 500, Lowest Toll in Decades,” the article began as follows: “Homicides began falling in the early 1990s, when Raymond W. Kelly first served as police commissioner and plummeted further under subsequent commissioners.”

Not a mention of Bratton in the article.

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