One Police Plaza

The Devil in the Detail — Part II

January 11, 2016 | 10:00 PM

Top police officials have pointed to a chief who headed Ray Kelly’s security detail as the source of Kelly’s comments that NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton deliberately distorted shooting statistics to make the city appear safer that it actually is.

Although Kelly has said his information was “supplied by active members of the department themselves,” these officials say the chief is retired and working in the private sector, and that he “reached back” inside the department, as one of them put it, to contact current officers for his information.

But whether their assertions are correct or whether these officials are settling personal scores remains unclear.

Because the NYPD officials would not speak on the record in identifying the chief, NYPD Confidential chose not to name him at this time.

After reading their allegations in NYPD Confidential, he telephoned this reporter to say: “It is complete bull… I never made a phone call to anyone in the department. I never spoke to Ray Kelly [about statistics.] I want nothing but the best for the department I have nothing but respect for Bill Bratton. All I want is for the department to succeed.”

Police sources say Bratton’s transition team was aware of the chief’s relationship to Kelly when at the urging of Bratton’s civilian consultant, Robert Wasserman, he was placed in what one source termed as a "soft landing” within the detective bureau after Bratton took over as commissioner.

Department spokesman Steve Davis said, “We are much more interested in whether former commissioner Kelly has specific facts about shootings that he will share with us than in learning who might have told him that.”

Those who know the retired chief describe him as smart and personable and with numerous relatives on the job. As the head of Kelly’s security detail he proved successful in stopping the bleeding of detectives assigned to protect Kelly who were leaving the detail in droves.

While the P.C.’s detail, as it is known, is considered among the most coveted of NYPD assignments, with a lock on overtime and grade promotions, by 2005, Kelly’s third year as commissioner, 16 detectives and supervisors had left. Their departures reflected the difficulties of subordinates who worked closely with Kelly.

The exodus began with Kelly’s dismissal of his longtime aide, Sgt. Manny Lopez, who had served in Kelly’s detail under David Dinkins a decade before. In 2004, after the midnight shooting in Brooklyn of Timothy Stansbury, a black teenager, by a white cop, Kelly blamed Lopez for not alerting him immediately and instead of waiting until the next morning. Kelly forced Lopez out of the detail and when Lopez then filed for retirement, Kelly had him investigated for overtime abuse. None was found. [See NYPD Confidential Nov. 25, 2005.]

Six years later, Lopez pleaded guilty to several misdemeanors of aggravated harassment, which consisted of his making two dozen prank phone calls to top police and elected officials, including former mayor Rudy Giuliani, in which he claimed to be the head of Kelly’s detail. [See NYPD Confidential, May 16, 2011.]

Like the retired chief, Lopez went to work in the private sector. He was the driver for the retired chief’s boss but left after the chief arrived.  

True, the settlement of two civil rights lawsuits over the NYPD’s over-the-top spying on Muslim communities during the reign of Ray Kelly is more symbolic than substantive. True, too, that the NYPD has admitted no wrongdoing.

But, with the appointment of an attorney outside the department to monitor the NYPD’s Intelligence Division, Kelly has hit the trifecta. His legacy now includes three outside monitors. Besides the Intel monitor, there is a federal monitor and an inspector general, both created in the wake of his overreach of stop-and-frisk.

It’s not often that NYPD Confidential finds itself agreeing with the New York Post. But that’s the case when it comes to another point in the settlement: the removal from the department’s website of its 2007 report on “homegrown” terrorists.

Granted the report by the department’s logorrheic former civilian analyst, Mitchell Silber, goes on and on and on for 92 pages and in places paints with too broad a brush. But the threat of homegrown terrorism — from the San Bernardino shootings to last week’s attack on a Philadelphia cop by a homegrown ISIS follower — is real.

See part I.


Copyright © 2016 Leonard Levitt