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Len Levitt

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The NYPD'S Far-Flung Empire

Posted: 09/10/2012 12:31 pm

The NYPD is opening a branch in Kfar Sava. In Israel. Are you kidding me?

It's not enough that the NYPD's Demographics Unit was virtually thrown out of New Jersey for spying on Muslims across the state.

Or that the Special Investigation Unit of its Intelligence Division wasted at least a year up in Buffalo, spying on that city's Somali community.

Or that the department's undercovers and informants infiltrated dozens of mosques in New York and New Jersey, and spied on Muslim students group at the City University [without a peep of protest from Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.]

The NYPD did all this while acting independently of the FBI, which is supposed to be the country's leading law enforcement agency in fighting terrorism. The FBI is also supposed to be the NYPD's partner.

However, top NYPD officials -- i.e. Commissioner Ray Kelly and Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen -- believe the Bureau is not a worthy partner.

We saw the results of such thinking in the case of Najibullah Zazi, the would-be subway bomber.

The NYPD nearly blew the FBI's investigation when Kelly and Cohen attempted an end-run around the Bureau by secretly contacting an informant, who tipped off Zazi's father that the authorities were on to his son.

Now, according to Israeli media, the NYPD is opening a branch office in the upscale Tel Aviv suburb of Kfar Sava.

No comment -- the usual when it comes to controversial NYPD actions -- from NYPD spokesman Paul Browne and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's spokesman, Marc LaVorgna.

So what's the NYPD doing in Kfar Sava? Supposedly, the department already had a detective in Tel Aviv, operating on his own as part of Kelly's NYPD overseas service, which was set up to rival, rather than augment, the FBI, whose overseas "legats" operate out of U.S. embassies?

Did something happen in Tel Aviv that they didn't tell us? Well, actually something did happen. That detective in Tel Aviv, Mordecai Dzansky, retired and wrote a book. Police sources say it was not well-received at Police Plaza. Apparently, it had too much Dzansky, not enough Kelly and Cohen.

Dzansky, who lives in Israel and is currently traveling on business in the U.S., did not return a message from NYPD Confidential.

The NYPD assigned another detective to Kfar Sava, Charles Ben-Naim, whom Israeli media described as a veteran detective. It appears that Ben-Naim was already in Israel, possibly as Dzansky's replacement.

Now here's the amusing part.

According to the website Al Monitor:

It was decided, in coordination with the Israeli police, that the New York representative would not operate out of the United States embassy but from a building of the Sharon District Police headquarters, situated close to the Kfar Sava station. The NYPD sign was even hung at the entrance to the district headquarters, and Ben-Naim's office is situated on the first floor of the building. One of the walls bears the sign: "New York Police Department, the best police department in the world.

So what does this mean for future NYPD-FBI relations in Israel? Or anywhere else for that matter?

At a Congressional hearing earlier this year, Senator Charles Schumer leaned on FBI Director Robert Mueller to telephone Kelly to keep him in the FBI's terrorism loop. Maybe Schumer will now call Kelly and lean on him to brief Mueller on the news from Kfar Sava.

Don't count on it though.

WHO THEY KNOW. Former 113th precinct executive officer Captain Matthew Travaglia was docked 40 vacation days -- a pretty stiff jolt -- in connection with charges that he ran his law practice during his on-duty hours with the NYPD.

Commissioner Kelly signed off on the penalty a couple of months ago.

Travaglia beat the top charge -- that on two occasions, while scheduled to perform an 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. tour, he was in Nassau County "taking part in [a] legal proceeding related to his law practice."

Instead, he was found guilty of not having the proper documents for his off-duty employment.
Although the NYPD had filed disciplinary charges against him in May, 2009, it took three years for the ruling against him.

Indeed, after he was charged, he continued his law practice. He merely changed tours, working the 4 p.m. to midnight shift so that he could maintain his law practice during the day. [See NYPD Confidential, Aug. 16, 2010.]

Not a positive message when the executive officer of a precinct can flout department regulations with impunity.

But Travaglia had some influential people behind him.

First was his daddy, a former highway patrolman, who was more than a mere cop. He is a wheeler and dealer with friends in high places.

One friend was Thomas Dale, the former borough commander of Queens South, which includes the 113th precinct. Kelly then promoted Dale to chief of Personnel, where he sat in a holding pattern until the top police job opened up in Nassau County.

Police sources say Travaglia Sr. helped arrange Dale's "walkout" from Police Plaza and had a car waiting to whisk him away.

Captain Travaglia, meanwhile, has been transferred to Manhattan North. He did not return a call for comment from NYPD Confidential.

Dale has another NYPD friend. He is Deputy Chief Michael Blake, formerly of Queens' 103rd precinct.

Blake was found not guilty last week in federal court of sexual harassment charges.

According to the Daily News, jurors believed there was some merit to Officer Veronica Schultz's claim that the 103d Precinct's youth unit was permeated with frat boy antics. But jurors said they did not support Schultz's claim that she was retaliated against after refusing romantic overtures from Blake and another officer.

At his trial, Blake denied allegations that he had a harem of precinct girlfriends who received favorable treatment. He acknowledged visiting a female officer once or twice at her home after work. He said he was helping her study for a promotion exam.

Blake, who is now the commanding officer of the Counter Terrorism Division, was on track to become a deputy commissioner under Dale in Nassau County.

We'll wait and see if that happens.

THE TISCH GIRL. Sources say that Jessica Tisch, the Harvard grad with no law enforcement background who is the NYPD's counter-terrorism director of planning and policy, was hired after one her relatives called Kelly, asking him to hire her.

What, if anything, did the wealthy and socially prominent Tisch family offer in return?

In the NYPD's black hole of non-disclosure, who knows?

Here is yet another instance where Mayor Mike has broken his campaign promise to bring more transparency to the police department, still smothered in secrecy as in the darkest days of former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

 
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