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Ray Kelly: No Detail Too Small

March 9, 2015

Although there have been no current credible threats against his life, Ray Kelly, the longest-serving and most powerful police commissioner in city history, is attempting to pull strings to keep his security detail, fourteen months after he retired.

The NYPD ended his 11-man detail, which included two sergeants and a lieutenant, on February 28th, because, said a top NYPD official who asked for anonymity, “There were no known current credible threats.”

Another top NYPD official, who also asked for anonymity, said the department had planned to end Kelly’s detail last summer but extended it through the end of year after the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island.

“A lot of tension built up after Garner,” said the official. “There was a lot of anger out there. [Current NYPD Commissioner] Bratton was smeared with red paint. Then, there was the assassination of the two officers [Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos].”

The department had provided Kelly with the detail when he retired in January 2014, after Bill de Blasio was elected mayor.

The cost to the taxpayers for those 14 months was more than $1 million.

After learning that the department planned to discontinue his detail on the last day of February, Kelly scrambled to find a way to continue it.

According to two well-placed sources, one in the NYPD, the other outside it, Kelly initially pointed to former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau — for whom Kelly had provided a police detail as a courtesy when Morgenthau retired in 2009 at age 90. That courtesy continues to this day.

The same two sources said Kelly then contacted Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who last year appointed Kelly as an unpaid special adviser to what the governor termed the “nation’s first college dedicated solely to emergency preparedness and homeland security.”

The NYPD source said Kelly sought the governor’s intercession with City Hall.

Cuomo’s response, the source said, was that if Kelly couldn’t come up with a satisfactory arrangement, Cuomo might provide him with a state police detail.

How Cuomo could justify continuing the detail at taxpayer expense after the NYPD had concluded that no current threat against Kelly existed is unclear.

Dani Lever, a Cuomo spokeswoman, said in an email and phone call, “The state is not providing Ray Kelly with a police detail.” In a follow up email and phone call, she added that Kelly had never requested a state police detail.

Maintaining a large-scale police detail for a retired police commissioner, or mayor for that matter — despite a lack of credible current threats — appears to be a recent phenomenon. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani began the practice with Police Commissioner Howard Safir.

When Safir retired in August 2000, Giuliani granted him a 12-man detective detail for the next 16 months — through the end of Giuliani’s term. At the time, Giuliani said he provided the detail because of threats to Safir’s life, but department officials denied there were any threats. The detail’s primary function turned out to be driving Safir and his wife about town and delivering his laundry.

When Michael Bloomberg became mayor in 2002, he ordered Kelly, whom he had appointed police commissioner, to provide Giuliani with a permanent police detail. That detail lasted a year and half — and protected not just the former mayor but his ex-wife, his two children, his mother and his then-girlfriend, whom Giuliani subsequently married.

As commissioner for 12 years under Bloomberg, Kelly will be remembered largely for two policies: his aggressive use of stop-and-frisk, which a federal judge ruled was racially discriminatory, and his creation, in the wake of 9/11, of a world-wide NYPD Intelligence Division.

“He did wonderful things for this city,” said a terrorism expert,” who also asked for anonymity, saying he didn’t want his name made public. “The city was well-protected by his leadership.”

Kelly now earns close to $1 million a year as the head of risk management services for the commercial real estate brokers Cushman & Wakefield.

Neither Kelly nor Cushman and Wakefield president and CEO Ed Forst returned a call from NYPD Confidential.

As of last week, Kelly still had a detail — a car and driver, hired from a private security firm.

Whether he or Cushman and Wakefield is paying for it is unknown.  

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