Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s amended proposal to house reporters stationed at 1 Police Plaza in an auditorium — he had originally thrown them out on their ears — is getting panned in media circles.
Kelly first planned to boot reporters on July 31, to make way for a glossy new anti-terror center. He wrote that the press wouldn’t have a chance to return to headquarters for at least four years. Reporters have had offices in 1PP since 1973.
Last night, facing a rather hostile reaction from reporters, Kelly decided to dump them in temporary laptop space in a second floor auditorium — the same place where he preens for the cameras after a big arrest.
But reporters would only be able to file stores there. They would not actually have their own desks.
“Simply having a place where you plug in a laptop is not acceptable,” says a reporter for one of the local papers. “It’s all just part of this continuum of limiting press access. This is just an opportune time to boot them under the cover of construction.”
We should point out that police headquarters is a huge building, with 14 floors, where every NYPD boss has his own big office and secretary. Surely, Kelly can do better than the auditorium.
Kelly defended the move by saying that the NYPD Community Affairs Division is also being asked to move out. But this is hardly a fair comparison. Community Affairs occupies sprawling offices at 1PP, though it’s always been unclear exactly what function it serves. The press is, well, the press. (See “Freedom of”; also, “Amendment, First.”)
Negotiations are apparently ongoing between editors and the police. We’ll see what happens.
One note: nearly 24 hours since the Voice first sought comment from the NYPD press office, we still have no response. No comment from City Hall, either, though a member of the Bloomberg flackery did acknowledge the existence of our questions (unlike the PD).