February 4, 2005

PBA running into a wall


Leonard LevittRelations between the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly appeared to hit bottom last year after Kelly called a cop's fatal and accidental shooting of Timothy Stansbury unjustified. Now, they've sunk even lower.

The latest issue of contention? The Wall of Heroes memorial in the lobby of One Police Plaza that honors police officers killed in the line of duty.

Union officials say Kelly is stalling after promising to honor 70 officers discovered to have died in the line of duty during the 19th century.

The discovery was part of a decade-long effort by retired sergeant Mike Bosak. In 1996, Bosak took his findings to Michael Markman, then chief of personnel under Howard Safir. The project languished for several years.

Safir's successor, Bernard Kerik, was more receptive. PBA president Patrick Lynch also backed the project. On Aug. 3, 2001, First Deputy Joe Dunne wrote that "the names of the deceased members be placed on the Wall of Heroes within one month's time."

Then Sept. 11 occurred, and the matter was forgotten.

Enter Ray Kelly.

Union officials say Kelly was initially lukewarm about the project but last year appointed a top-level committee, composed of three-star chiefs Mike Scagnelli and Rafael Pineiro, First Deputy George Grasso and Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne.

In November, Kelly announced the officers Bosak had discovered would be added to the wall and their descendants invited to the ceremony.

But now, PBA trustee Michael Morgillo notes Kelly missed a year-end deadline to send documentation for inclusion to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington.

"We needed him to sign off by Dec. 31," Morgillo said. "This means the cops cannot be included on that wall until May 2006."

As for the Wall of Heroes at police headquarters, Morgillo noted Kelly has set no date.

"He says he has found 68 other cops not listed and wants to include them," Morgillo said. "But the real reason is that if Kelly is not regarded as the prime mover, it's not going to happen."

Says Bosak: "I'm numb. After eight years, I am used to getting jerked around. I guess Ray Kelly's word cannot be taken to be the gospel truth."

No comment from Kelly.