THE BLOG
01/21/2014 11:10 am ET Updated Mar 23, 2014

Ray Kelly's Legacy: It's Coming Undone

It hasn't even been three weeks since Ray Kelly departed Police Plaza after the longest run in city history, but his legacy is already unraveling.

Just look at what has transpired in the past ten days.

... Attorney General Eric Holder met with Mayor Bill de Blasio last week to discuss reforming Stop-and-Frisk, Kelly's controversial policy that became the centerpiece of de Blasio's election campaign. According to the Justice Department, they discussed "respecting civil rights and civil liberties," all in the context of Stop-and-Frisk.

... The state legislature's Black Caucus called upon Gov. Cuomo to rescind his recent appointment of Kelly as a special adviser. Their letter to the governor cited Stop-and-Frisk and the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program

... The city agreed to pay $18 million to settle claims of 1,630 people -- protestors, bystanders and journalists -- arrested at the 2004 Republican National Convention -- one of Kelly's more egregious policing overreaches. Chris Dunn, associate legal director of the Civil Liberties Union, said it was the largest protest settlement in the history of the country.

Perhaps most damaging to Kelly's legacy is that government officials have begun making pointed criticisms of Kelly's signature policy - his expanded Intelligence Division designed to fight terrorism.

During his 12 years as police commissioner, Kelly tried to place Intel on an equal footing with the FBI, which by law is the country's leading national law enforcement agency.

Most recently the FBI and the State Department have been tangling with the NYPD over an Intelligence Division report that criticized the Kenyan government's response to a terrorist attack at a Nairobi mall last fall that lasted four days and led to the deaths of 67 people.

The FBI, working with Kenyan authorities, concluded that the four attackers were killed, and praised the actions of Kenyan law enforcement officials.

But the NYPD report, written by Lt. Kevin Yorke of the Intelligence Division and was presented to corporate security officials in New York, suggested the four had escaped, and trashed the Kenyans for not securing the mall's perimeter.

"Were the terrorists killed or did they escape? That's the million dollar question," Yorke said. "As a cop I'm very skeptical of any claims unless I see proof."

Last month the State Department's top African official, Assistant Secretary Linda Greenfield-Thomas, said the Intel report was not sanctioned by the U.S. government and did not reflect the U.S. position.

"It has no connection with any official U.S. governmental reporting. It was not shared with us and we don't share the conclusions that were in the report," she said.

Then, beginning ten days ago, the FBI posted a two-part interview on its website with Dennis Brady, its legal attaché in Nairobi, that seemed to go out of its way to refute the NYPD's conclusions.

"We believe, as do the Kenyan authorities, that the four gunmen inside the mall were killed. ...There is no evidence that any of the attackers escaped. ... Three sets of remains were found. Also, the Kenyans ... set up a very secure crime scene perimeter, making an escape unlikely. Additionally, had the attackers escaped, it would have been publicly celebrated and exploited for propaganda purposes by al Shabaab [a terrorist organizaiton]. That hasn't happened."

While both these criticisms of the NYPD were muted, their message was clear.
A top law enforcement official familiar with the Kenyan attack went so far as to say that such actions by the NYPD may be harming the national interest.

"The relationship between the FBI and Kenyan authorities was forged in blood on Aug 7, 1998, when 225 people - including 12 Americans --were killed in the bombing of the U.S. embassy," he said.

Since then, he said, the FBI has established a close working relationship with the Kenyans.

"We embraced them. The FBI forged a relationship out of trust. And the Kenyans proved very helpful after 9/ll."

Referring to the NYPD report, he said, "They don't think of consequences. By criticizing the Kenyan authorities, it showed up the Kenyans to the world and made it appear that they were speaking for the U.S. government. They weren't, but try explaining to the Kenyans."

THE NASSAU JOB - According to folks in Nassau County, Ray Kelly was never offered the job of Police Commissioner, which he publicly said he was but declined to accept.

Nassau County executive Ed Mangano said last month he is looking to the NYPD -- [Why, God only knows.] -- for a replacement for recently ousted police commissioner Thomas V. Dale.

Dale, a former NYPD chief, was forced to resign last month after it was revealed he ordered a man pulled off a bus in response to a call from a political operative and contributor to the Nassau Republican party.

Police sources in Nassau said that one person who was approached for the police commissioner's job was former NYPD Chief of Department Joe Esposito but that Esposito did not appear interested.

"I'm open to all offers," Esposito said cryptically in an email last week.

Since letting his hair grew long, Espo has been sounding oracular, if not obscure.

Asked whether his comment meant he had been approached by Nassau officials about the police job, he went cryptically silent.

A current NYPD chief who sought the job has apparently not made the cut. A retired NYPD chief could be in the mix.

A SLIGHT BRATTON HICCUP - All eyes were on Esposito protégé, retired chief Sal Carcaterra, as Bill Bratton's future chief-of-staff.

Then along came Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance with his investigation of Social Security disability pension rip-offs, which netted some NYPD cops.

Carcaterra wasn't one of them.

He does, however, have a police disability pension, which provides him with an annual tax-free pension estimated at around $125, 000.

He was so ready to return to the department that he was willing to suspend it and accept a chief-of-staff, six-figure salary instead.

Bratton's team, however, concluded that it might prove difficult explaining how an officer awarded a police disability pension because he can no longer perform the duties of a patrolman can return as the commissioner's chief-of-staff.

"Carcaterra didn't do anything wrong," said a person familiar with the situation, "but it might put Bratton in a bad light and become an issue. Carcaterra bowed out because he didn't want it to become one."

SLOW WINDS OF CHANGE. The NYPD may become a more welcoming place than it was under Kelly but that message has not reached two key two areas -- the Public Information Office, known as DCPI, or Police Plaza's security staff.

For the past ten years or so, the DCPI has been immune from scrutiny, beginning with the locked door to its 13th floor passageway that can be opened only with a special building pass that most reporters do not possess. Unreturned phone calls and unanswered emails have been the routine. When this reporter recently asked a sergeant for a roster book of officers, the sergeant acted as though he had never heard of one.

Meanwhile, with a newly acquired press card [Thank you, Commissioner Bratton.], Your Humble Servant was stopped outside DCPI by a passing officer who demanded to see whether the pass issued me that day permitted entry to the 13th floor.

A sign on the glass of the outside security station reads: "Visitors are permitted only on the floor indicated on their pass.

"If you wish to visit other floors, you must first return to the first floor security desk.

"Persons found on floors other than the one indicated on their pass may be arrested."