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OpinionColumnistsLeonard Levitt

Hidden in plain sight at Police Plaza tower

NYPD officers stand guard at One Police Plaza

NYPD officers stand guard at One Police Plaza on December 13, 2014 in New York City. Photo Credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Readers, do you know the Gothic novel "Jane Eyre"? Jane, a poor girl, falls in love with her rich master, Edward Rochester, who wants to marry her. But unbeknownst to Jane, he has hidden his deranged wife in his mansion's attic so that no one will know she exists.

Well, the NYPD is hiding someone on the 14th floor of Police Plaza. Apparently it, too, doesn't want anyone to know he exists. His name is Zach Tumin. He is not deranged. Far from it. He is the deputy commissioner for strategic initiatives. But no one has seen him recently, and no one in the NYPD can explain what he's done for the past 18 months.

Tumin is one of Commissioner Bill Bratton's backroom guys, whom the public rarely sees but who exert a powerful influence at the NYPD. One of those is John Linder, the consultant from New Mexico who created Bratton's "re-engineering" strategies 20 years ago and who returned to the NYPD last year to write the strategies for the current climate. Another is Bratton's longtime pal Robert Wasserman, who is reportedly so influential that promotions must be cleared with him.

In Tumin's defense, the deputy commissioner for strategic initiatives never had a defined mission. But he described it this way in his resume: "erving on Police Commissioner Bill Bratton's executive staff. Zach leads the NYPD's internal innovation group, chartered to stand-up new units and operations. There, he has been responsible for establishing the NYPD's social media and digital engagement platforms, now with over 100 account holders, and 1 million followers and friends."

We are waiting for Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Steve Davis to explain what that means.

So what happened? Tumin got himself in some trouble with a couple of his tweets, seeming to blame mentally ill people for "walking into police bullets." That set off a Twitter uproar.

One knowledgeable police person described Tumin's problem as "social awkwardness," adding: "He antagonized a lot of people at Police Plaza."

Since then, his staff of 20 has been removed. Only an intern and a secretary remain. Call his number and a voice says: "Hello. You have reached Strategic Initiatives office. We are unavailable to answer the phone at this time. Please leave a message and someone will return your call. Thank you. And have a nice day."

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