Staten Island Advance
February 11, 2004

2 councilmen defend police commissioner

Republican Oddo and Democrat McMahon support Kelly as PBA members give leader vote of no confidence

By TOM WROBLESKI

Two city councilmen from Staten Island defended Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly yesterday after union officials demanded his resignation.

James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn) and Michael McMahon (D-North Shore) backed Kelly despite a vote of no confidence by members of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

Kelly has been under fire for his quick criticism of the police slaying of an unarmed Brooklyn teenager.

Oddo said while Kelly's remarks about the rooftop shooting being unjustified were ill-timed and made before all the facts were in, he didn't think the commissioner should resign.

"He's doing a good job," said Oddo, the Council minority leader. "It would be a great loss to New York City if he were to leave. I don't want to see that happen."

The vote against Kelly at a meeting of about 400 PBA delegates in Queens also stemmed from labor unrest: The union's 23,000 members have been working without a contract, and officials claim they are among the lowest-paid cops in urban areas.

"I understand the frustration of the members," said McMahon. "But they'd do better to direct their anger at the mayor, who's the boss. They're not the only ones without a contract."

Borough President James Molinaro and Councilman Andrew Lanza (R-South Shore) did not return phone calls seeking comment on Kelly.

The PBA has criticized Kelly for announcing that the killing of 19-year-old Timothy Stansbury appeared unjustified only hours after it happened.

"That showed to our members that when all goes wrong, they will not get the benefit of the doubt," PBA president Patrick Lynch said after yesterday's meeting.

"Morale is at an all-time low," Lynch said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended Kelly.

"We have the best police commissioner this city's ever seen," Bloomberg said. "He's done exactly what's right ... His record is impeccable."

A spokesman for Kelly, Paul Browne, said, "By promptly and candidly reporting on the Stansbury shooting, the police commissioner performed a public service for police officers and the community alike. Some critics are too narrowly focused to appreciate that fact."

Police Officer Richard Neri shot Stansbury once in the chest on Jan. 24 as the victim pushed open a red metal door to the roof of the Louis Armstrong Houses, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section.

The high school senior and two friends wanted to use the roof as a shortcut to another building.

A grand jury in Brooklyn is weighing possible criminal charges against Neri. His attorney has said the panel could hear testimony from him this week. ASSOCIATED PRESS material was used in this report.

Tom Wrobleski covers politics for the Advance. He may be reached at wrobleski@siadvance.com.