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Call ’em Ray’s Untouchables

August 5, 2005

The best job in law enforcement is being one of the Police Department's top brass.

First, you don't have to do anything, as Commissioner Ray Kelly does your job for you. Second, no matter how outrageous your conduct, nothing will happen to you.

Take Deputy Commissioner of Operations Garry McCarthy, who in February was disarmed, handcuffed and arrested by two Palisades Interstate Parkway Police officers.

Their report states that they feared for their safety after McCarthy, semi-automatic weapon in his waistband, shouted and cursed at them because his daughter was issued a parking summons.

After the officers confiscated McCarthy's weapon and placed it in their patrol car, his wife, Regina, retrieved it, according to the police report. She, too, was handcuffed and arrested.

So far - despite an Internal Affairs investigation that has confirmed the above - the only explanation from Kelly has come from Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Paul Browne, who said the incident "does not rise to the level of discipline."

Contrast Kelly's supine position toward McCarthy with his grilling of one of the department's civilian photographer, Walter Taylor. One of two dozen photographers in the department's photo unit, Taylor, a 35-year veteran, appears at virtually all department-related events, from dinners to promotions.

In April, he was shooting the Finest Foundation's annual dinner at the Plaza, which Kelly attended for a nanosecond. Spotting Taylor, Kelly, according to witnesses, became enraged.

"What are you doing here? Who authorized your attendance?" he demanded.

The mild-mannered Taylor was stunned. He was further stunned to learn he could no longer photograph police events. An official of the Finest Foundation, one of the numerous groups of buffs that raises money for the department, says Taylor may now retire.

He could not be reached for comment last week.

So why would Kelly punish a lowly civilian for presumably doing his job while ignoring McCarthy's off-duty transgressions? In Taylor's case, it perhaps has to do with Kelly's inability to forgive a perceived slight - specifically the Finest Foundation's dinner at the St. Regis two years ago, when the group offered a "commissioner's table" invitation to potential donors for $50,000.

Kelly took that as an affront, suggesting that access to him could be purchased. He backed out at the last moment, forcing the Finest to relinquish its $40,000 deposit. Finest officials say he agreed to appear at this year's dinner as a personal favor to its octogenarian founder, Rodney Ettman.

Meanwhile, no one in the department is venturing why Kelly has taken no action against McCarthy.

A former deputy commissioner suggested Kelly was waiting for McCarthy's criminal trial in New Jersey, for which no date has been set.

"For McCarthy to confront those cops over his daughter's summons was inexcusable," said the former deputy commissioner. "It could only have a bad outcome. But knowing cops, the Palisades guys probably weren't all in the right, either."

Financial woes? So is former Commissioner Howard Safir and his wife Carol's Police Museum going belly up? If so, say police sources, the reason (besides the Safirs' poor management and general unpleasantness) stems from the complex licensing rights for police logos, which accounted for a chunk of museum revenues.

At the midnight hour of his commissionership in 2000, Safir awarded those rights to the museum - of which Carol is chairwoman. But Safir's successor Bernard Kerik gave them to the Police Foundation, the department's official private fund-raising arm. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, they belong to the city.

South of the border? Kerik's wily former chief aide at the NYPD, John Picciano, is in the wind. For the past two months, he has not responded to phone calls or e-mails and has been absent from his usual haunts, including Uncle Jack's steak house, where he is said to have an interest. People there say even family members don't know his whereabouts. He is said to be in Brazil, which, whether coincidental or not, has no extradition treaty with the United States.

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© 2005 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.