September 3, 2002

PBA, Kelly Failing To Communicate

Len LevittPolice Commissioner Ray Kelly did not attend last week's Patrolmen's Benevolent Association convention. He was not on the original guest list, although it's not clear if that was an oversight.

When PBA president Patrick Lynch got around to personally inviting the commissioner two weeks ago, Kelly said he had other plans.

Also unclear is whether Lynch has legitimate grievances with Kelly concerning access to him or whether he is posturing over the still-unresolved contract talks.

The knock on Kelly - not just from the union but from top cops - is that he is aloof, concerned foremost with his image and that despite his NYPD background, his confidants are not police officials. Not for nothing has One Police Plaza referred to perhaps Kelly's closest adviser Paul Browne as Deputy Commissioner of Image.

Lynch's spokesman, Al O'Leary, said part of the problem is a lack of communication.

"Pat has said many times there was better communication between the previous administration than there is today," O'Leary said. "If the commissioner wants to encourage a dialogue, he is in a position to do that. [Former Police Commissioner Bernard] Kerik took advantage of it. That doesn't seem to be the case today."

Referring to the contract and pay raises for officers, O'Leary added: "Unless he is pressed to speak up, you don't hear the police commissioner on behalf of the people that make this department work. You never hear him offering to stand up for his men and women."

Kelly's spokesman, Michael O'Looney, disputed that last week. "Kelly's door is always open to Pat. They talk all the time."

O'Looney added: "Kelly has consistently said that police officers deserve a substantial raise."