One Police Plaza

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Ray Kelly: Controlling From the Grave

Even from the grave, Ray Kelly wants to run the NYPD.

His secret doomsday plan, unearthed by the Post’s Phil Messing last week, reveals that if Kelly dies in a “catastrophic incident,” First Deputy Rafael Pineiro will succeed him.

Should Chief of Department Joe Esposito, the NYPD’s highest ranking uniformed officer, also succumb, the line of succession will be, in this order:

Kelly also has a plan for selecting Pineiro’s successor as First Deputy.

An unnamed deputy commissioner is to succeed him “as directed and designated by the Police Commissioner.”

In a memo to the department’s 33 top commanders, Kelly describes this process as “Catastrophic Incident Continuity of Command.”

A more apt title might be “Catastrophic Exaggeration of Current Police Commissioner’s Self-importance.”

It’s yet another example of Kelly’s ego run amok.

It’s made irrelevant by rules already in place and by the realities of politics at both City Hall and in the police department.

First off, if Kelly selected anyone other than Pineiro as his successor, he would be in violation of the City Charter.

The charter specifically states that if the police commissioner dies or is incapacitated, the First Deputy automatically becomes Police Commissioner.

But that’s just a temporary deal. Whether it becomes permanent is not Kelly’s call.

Despite the wishes of his doomsday memo, the decision whether or not to keep Pineiro will be Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s.

Nor will Kelly be choosing Esposito’s successor as Chief of Department or Pineiro’s successor as First Deputy.

Those decisions will be made by the next police commissioner.

Here, Kelly might well pause and remember some city history — his own.

Remember how Mayor David Dinkins appointed then First Deputy Kelly to succeed Police Commissioner Lee Brown in 1992 when Brown resigned in the wake of the Mollen corruption scandal?

A year later, Rudy Giuliani was elected mayor. His first move was to dismiss Kelly and bring in his own guy — Bill Bratton.

Remember also how, when Kelly returned as Police Commissioner in 2001, he sidelined many of his predecessor’s top chiefs?

These included some super cops, notably Assistant Chief Tom Fahey and Chief of Patrol Bill Morange, formerly known as the White Prince of Harlem.

Like all commissioners, Kelly wanted his own guys.

True, it’s important to have a succession plan in place following a catastrophe such as a terrorist attack.

But why is Kelly writing an obituary to himself and memorializing his successors in roles that will never happen?

Sadly, there does not appear to be anyone in his circle of sycophants and enablers strong enough to talk him off the ledge of this “Continuity of Command” nonsense.

Perhaps Kelly chooses to ignore how rarely retired police brass, including former police commissioners, return to visit Police Plaza.

In part, this is because Kelly makes known his dislike for them. In part, it’s because they realize their time has come and gone.

Yet that insight eludes Kelly, who seeks to rule from the grave.

Despite his wishes, chances are slim that his successor will consult a medium to seek Kelly’s advice on transfers and promotions.

Finally, remember that there are many mugs like Kelly who feel New York cannot survive without them.

Remember Giuliani and his plan to remain mayor an extra three months because only he could guide the city through the aftermath of 9/ll?

Somehow, New Yorkers got through it without him.

In fact, the city strengthened its terror-fighting capabilities, thanks to the newly reappointed police commissioner — Ray Kelly.

Captain Charles Barbuti has been bounced as the commander of the Bronx District Attorney’s squad after being caught in two police department car crashes in the last 18 months.

Police sources say he failed to notify the department about either of them.

In one of them he was accused of keeping the car while studying for the bar exam.

Sources said he never told the department or the District Attorney that he took the car home or crashed it.

But he did charge them for the tow-truck, saying it broke down.

Bronx D.A. spokesman Steve Reed confirmed that Barbuti had had two recent car accidents. He declined to elaborate.

And last November, according to these sources, Barbuti, again driving a department car, passed a street disturbance and gave a woman named “Eva” the finger.

“Eva” happens to be on Bronx D.A. Robert Johnson’s staff.

Reed confirmed that “an incident occurred” and added that Barbuti apologized to the woman.

There’s plenty more that we won’t go into now. Suffice it to say that Barbuti was ratted out by a subordinate, who’s also had troubles in the job.

Barbuti is now assigned to Bronx borough headquarters, where he didn’t return a call from this reporter.

He’s said to be trying to stick it out until spring so he can retire with his 25-year pension intact.

If past is prologue, chances are good he’ll make it. Commissioner Kelly goes easy on errant captains.

Recall Matthew Travaglia, the executive officer of the 113th precinct in Queens, who was nailed by Internal Affairs for moonlighting as a lawyer while claiming to be at work at the precinct.

Although charges were filed in May 2009, he was not penalized until his transgressions appeared in this column last August.

But he received only a wrist-slap: a transfer to the 105th precinct, where we caught up with him last week while working the day shift.

If he’s still practicing law, he’s doing it after 4 P.M.

Internal Affairs may be doing its job, but the perception lingers that Kelly won’t take disciplinary action against any lump if his misdeeds appear first in this column.

If that’s true, it’s no way to run a railroad, Ray.

Finally, it would not be fair to mention troubled captains without including the notorious Ronald Haas.

Bounced by the Intelligence Division after 9/ll, Captain Haas now hangs his hat at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, where, as commanding officer of its detective squad, he’s still making life miserable for subordinates.

Retired Chief Mike Tiffany checked in last week with a writing lesson, pointing out that Your Humble Servant misused the word “penultimate” in describing Al Sharpton’s opportunism. A more apt word might have been “ultimate” or “consummate.”

Second lesson: Just because you have an Ivy League education doesn’t mean you can write proper English.

Tiffany, by the way, is a graduate of the NYPD’s “UCLA” — [Manhattan North campus.]

Copyright © 2010 Leonard Levitt