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Kelly seeking control of it all

November 11, 2005

Few in the NYPD know Lawrence H. Sanchez. He is listed on page 6 of the 2005 police roster as an assistant commissioner under David Cohen, the deputy commissioner of intelligence.

Like Cohen, Sanchez is a former CIA man with an interesting resume: a degree in geophysics, a power-lifter and boxing titlist, fluent in Russian and Portuguese. He joined the agency in 1984 and is considered an expert in matters of nuclear proliferation.

But in the post-9/11, super-duper-secret, terrorism-related world, this reporter could not determine what Sanchez does in the NYPD. He joined the department a year ago, earns $135,000, is said to wear an earring and turns out of the Intelligence Division's secret West Side redoubt.

Less secret is the relationship NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is formalizing with the CIA. That relationship goes back at least two decades, says an NYPD official, when the agency informally approached former police commissioner Ben Ward, seeking Spanish-speaking detectives to infiltrate the FALN, a Puerto Rican terrorist group. Some joined the agency, says the official. But, he added, their trail has gone cold. Now, department sources say the NYPD and the CIA have initialed a formal memorandum of understanding.

But in the super-duper-secret, terrorism-related world, this reporter could find no one in the NYPD, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security or the CIA who could confirm this or explain what this memorandum refers to.

Theories abound. One holds that the memorandum applies to informants, both overseas or domestic, and is a way of protecting the CIA, which is prohibited by law from spying domestically. Another is that the memorandum delineates information shared with the agency that the NYPD gathers as its Arabic-speaking recruits troll Internet sites, searching out jihadists.

A third holds that the CIA relationship allows Kelly to bypass the NYPD's current information-sharing mechanism - the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force. Still, others note that relations between Kelly and the bureau have recently improved under Mark Mershon, the new head of the FBI's New York office.

The thing all law enforcement officials contacted by Newsday agree on is Kelly's motivation: control - absolute control.

Winners. If Mayor Mike Bloomberg is the big winner in this week's election, Kelly is close behind.

Already, Bloomberg is again urging that Kelly take over the subway and the Port Authority police in another terrorist attack. Under the city protocol Bloomberg established, Kelly will also run the fire department in such an emergency.

But the talk now is also of Kelly running for mayor in 2009, and no less than the city's most eminent ex-Democratic mayor, Ed Koch, says such talk is not premature.

"He's extremely able. He'd be a formidable candidate," Koch said, while adding that he himself is committed to city Comptroller William Thompson.

"Kelly doesn't have to be a politician to be a formidable candidate," Koch says. "He just has to keep doing what he is doing, to keep crime falling and to protect the city as best as he can from terrorism. Nobody can hold him responsible for acts of terror so long as he has done everything he can to prevent it."

Another strength, Koch says, is that Kelly "looks like a poster boy for the police commissioner. He has that special look that evokes confidence."

Koch says he's lunched with Kelly several times. "The subject has never come up."

The fighting McCarthys (continued).
A flier on the 13th floor of One Police Plaza invites everyone - or nearly everyone - to the deputy commissioner of operations' Christmas party on Dec. 2.

No mention of the deputy commissioner's other date - Dec. 15. That's when the deputy commissioner - whose name is Garry McCarthy - is to stand trial in New Jersey over his dispute with two Palisades Parkway Police officers who ticketed his daughter for illegally parking in a handicapped space.

As for the deputy commissioner's Christmas party, a sergeant in McCarthy's office informed this reporter: "You're not invited."

This is Your Humble Servant's last column for Newsday. It has been an honor and privilege to write about the men and women of the NYPD.

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© 2005 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.