MANHATTAN — The city’s police unions erupted Tuesday after DNAinfo disclosed that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has banned New York's Finest from owning T-shirts, hats and other merchandise that features the NYPD's logo.
Kelly’s directive bars cops from wearing the NYPD logo or department insignia on anything except their uniform – and the order extends into their homes and covers NYPD mugs and all types of tchotchkes.
Under the commissioner’s edict, first reported by “On The Inside,” cops would not only have to stop wearing the jewelry, pins, lapels and pinkie rings, they would have to get rid of them.
"It is a sad commentary when a seasoned police chief feels insubordinate by wearing a replica of his shield on a ring,” said Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association. “[My members] don't know if they have to take their rings off.”
Sources said Kelly sent out the Jan. 19 “Interim Order” entitled “Prohibited Behavior” after seeing a cop wearing an NYPD emblazoned T-shirt that was also adorned with a military slogan, “Kill Them All, and Let God Sort It Out.”
Right now, thousands of cops possess items of clothing, jewelry and merchandise proudly displaying their NYPD connection and are in violation of Kelly’s directive.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, said Kelly’s order is “patently unlawful.”
“Telling police officers what images or objects he or she can own or wear in their private lives is a clear violation of the officers' free speech rights, possibly other Constitutional rights and collective-bargaining rights,” Lynch said. “Many private citizens proudly wear NYPD apparel and police officers can't? It makes no sense."
Michael Palladino, president of the Detective Endowment Assocation, said “the order does not seem well thought out.” His union, he said, will seek "clarification and resolution through the Office of Labor Relations."
Richter, who is also a lawyer, believes the commissioner “overreached by trying to regulate clothing or jewelry worn by an officer in their personal time.”
“This order violates long standing labor practice and is being reviewed by our legal advisers for the appropriate action,” he added.
The NYPD has not commented to “On The Inside.”
But Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in Tuesday, defending the measure.
“Up to Ray Kelly," he said. "He should set the standards."