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Ray Kelly to Stash De Blasio NYPD Transition Team in Trailer

By Murray Weiss | November 29, 2013 9:43am | Updated on November 30, 2013 12:41pm
 Police headquarters.
Police headquarters.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

MANHATTAN — Call it the Transition Trailer.

Outgoing Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is planning to stick his successor and his transition team in an unused trailer outside police headquarters, sources said.

The trailer will offer the team limited, if any, access to the inside of the super-secure 14-story headquarters, with its lobby guarded by sentries and a bank of turnstiles that require special electronic swipe cards. 

The team's coming-and-goings will require screening outside One Police Plaza by NYPD headquarters security, like other members of the public. In the past, transition teams have been afforded space in police headquarters.

And their movements will also be watched 'round-the-clock by NYPD surveillance cameras that can be viewed by Kelly himself on any of the dozens of television monitors in his office that have access to feeds from around the city, sources say.

The trailer simply creates a perception problem, especially for those who already question the way Kelly sometimes does business.

“You are talking about the next police commissioner and his people and you are putting him in a trailer in the back and outside the very place that they will be taking over," said a police official who respects Kelly. "It is very condescending . . . and I think the reason why is to even micro-manage his exit.”

"There is something negative about a new team being put in a trailer by the old team," a second official said. "A trailer has certain connotations, and none of them are good.”

And yet another observer quipped, “It’s worse than a corner office . . . on the corner.”

The trailer, which has been sitting unused outside Police Headquarters for three months, has a conference area, a coffee room and cubicles, and the interior resembles an NYPD command post vehicle.

Document sharing and scheduled meetings between officials will take place in the trailer, with limited exceptions, the sources say.

Since Election Day, there has been virtually no contact between Kelly, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and any transition personnel.

The only public encounter between the police commissioner and the mayor-elect occurred after Kelly blasted him and the other mayoral candidates in a “Playboy” interview for turning their backs on him during their campaigns and criticizing his tactics.

De Blasio and Kelly later met, and the mayor-elect said the two ironed out their issues.

But the choice of a trailer for the police transition team will likely stir new friction regardless of the mayor’s pick to succeed Kelly.

‘You have to go through security checkpoints to get inside the Police Headquarters perimeter and pass through exterior zones to get to the trailer, and you are always monitored by the surveillance of cameras,” one official said. “And you can’t get into the building and through the turnstiles without the special entry cards, which none of them will have.

“If I were them, I would say, ‘We will find our own space, and you can come to us.’”

NYPD transition teams are generally comprised of personnel who are no longer part of the department, although one of the leading candidates to succeed Kelly is the current Chief of Department, Philip Banks.

Kelly said earlier this week that he has selected an undisclosed point person from his office to deal with the transition team. Sources say Kelly's choice is Assistant Chief Brian Burke, the longtime head of Kelly's personal security detail.

When asked earlier this week about whether the transition has started, Kelly chuckled.

“We have to talk to somebody,” he said, referring to the fact that no successor has been chosen.

UPDATE: A de Blasio spokeswoman issued the following statement Friday for this story: "We're certain that the leadership of the police department will afford a new commissioner all of the assets required to continue to keep our great city safe."