Police columnist Len Levitt of NYPD Confidential has an interesting piece on Commissioner Ray Kelly’s use of his official security detail to chauffeur his wife on personal trips at taxpayer expense. My first reaction would be a big "So what?" except for three things:
- State Comptroller Alan Hevesi was forced from office earlier this year for doing the exact same thing.
- Kelly is an absolute stickler, and willing to spare no expense, to encourage lawful behavior when it comes to large groups of cyclists on city streets.
- Kelly’s agency is responsible for 46% of parking permit abuse by government employees, by far the largest share from any single agency.
It all adds up to a sense that Ray Kelly and the NYPD are above the very same laws that they were sworn to uphold. Levitt writes:
Between 2002, when Kelly returned as commissioner, and late 2006, when the accusations against Hevesi surfaced, plain-clothes detectives from Kelly’s nine-man security detail had driven his wife Veronica in unmarked police cars on hundreds of personal trips about the city, these detectives say.
One detective said the detail drove Mrs. Kelly as many as three or four times a week.
Another detective said that "while three or four times a week may be too much, it did happen frequently, involving plenty of vehicles and plenty of personnel. No question about it."
These included, the detectives say, picking Mrs. Kelly up on the Upper East Side when her car broke down; driving her to fundraising events or to the shelter where she volunteered; and taking her to and from airports for domestic and foreign flights.
Occasionally, when Mrs. Kelly ran late, she directed the detail to use lights and sirens, a practice Commissioner Kelly had banned for himself, unless it involved a police emergency, the detectives say.
"I know my husband doesn’t like to do this but I need to get there right away," a detective quoted her as saying when she was running late to a fundraiser.
"The commissioner’s wife tells you to put the lights on, you put the lights on," the detective said.
Two blocks from the site of the event, he added, she ordered the lights and sirens turned off.
New Critical Mass chant: "Whose street!? Veronica Kelly’s streets!!"
Photo: New York Social Diary