Police boss Raymond Kelly is under fire in new book
Sunday, July 5th 2009, 2:39 AM, NY Daily News
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is shrugging off a stinging new book by longtime antagonist Leonard Levitt.
The former Newsday columnist writes in “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country’s Greatest Police Force” that he was personally thrilled when Mayor Bloomberg brought Kelly back in 2002 for a second stint as PC. “I respected his judgment, temperament, integrity,” says Levitt, who believed the cop’s cop could end the tight-lipped siege mentality that reigned over the NYPD during Rudy Giuliani’s administration. Kelly returned the love, Levitt says, by calling him “the only reporter in New York with b---s.”
But after a string of stories that Kelly called inaccurate (one he branded “mendaciously vindictive”), the commish drove out to Long Island to complain to Levitt’s editors. Shortly thereafter, Levitt says, he found his usual cop contacts shirking him.
“An inspector I knew in Brooklyn told me his chief had warned him, ‘Being seen with Lenny Levitt is committing career suicide.’”
“The police department under Kelly became more sparing of information than under Giuliani,” writes Levitt, pointing to Kelly’s ordering cops to turn over their private cell phone records to find out who’d spoken to reporters. “He refused to release such minor details as his public schedule [and ] the weekly schedule of officers facing [corruption] charges.”
“Despite his accomplishments and successes” in lowering crime rates and heading off terrorists, “Kelly remained bitter toward those he felt had wronged him,” Levitt claims. “Ironically, the man Kelly increasingly reminded me of was the man he most despised — Rudy Giuliani,” who had fired him.
Levitt contends that Kelly also resented former Commish Bill Bratton — even though he, too, was a victim of Giuliani’s wrath — because Bratton had belittled the accomplishments of Kelly’s first term. In 2001, when Bratton came through New York, “Kelly refused to take his calls,” Levitt claims. He also asserts that Kelly refused to meet with former Commissioner Howard Safir.
Levitt continued to hammer Kelly, writing about his clashes with several members of his personal security detail. In 2005, when he started writing for Newsday as a freelancer, Levitt says the NYPD demanded that he give up his 1 Police Plaza building pass. Later, when his contract with the paper expired, he says he was barred from entering the building and saw his picture posted at the front desk as a possible “security threat.”
The NYPD insisted the moves were unrelated to his critical reporting. NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne suggests Levitt is the one with a grudge. He declined to dignify Levitt’s allegations beyond calling them “recycled, fabricated gossip driven by personal animus, unimproved with age.”