Former NYPD Chief Ray Kelly Sees City at ‘Very Critical Point’

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HEIGHT OF OUTLOOK – New York City has gone through some of its most turbulent times with Ray Kelly as Police Commissioner.

He headed the New York Police Department under Mayor David Dinkins from 1992 to 1994 and again under Mayor Michael Bloomberg following the September 11 attacks from 2002 to 2013. Commissioner Kelly is the first person to have held this position for two non-consecutive terms. .

[Related: Only In Print: Marching to the Beat of His Own Drum]

Ray Kelly with Pope Benedict in 2008 during the Holy Father’s visit to New York.

Pat Ednie, who worked under Kelly as an NYPD detective for 14 years, said Kelly was held in high regard; whenever he or his coworkers were faced with a difficult situation, the first thing they did was ask, “What would Ray Kelly do?” “

The son of a milkman and a Macy’s wardrobe, Kelly grew up on the Upper West Side of New York. Irish Catholic, Kelly attended St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Manhattan.

He fondly recalled an idyllic childhood when children played stickball in the streets and soccer in Riverside Park. “That’s how it was to be a Catholic kid in 1940s New York. Those were really carefree moments for most,” he wrote in “Vigilance: My Life.” in the service of America and the protection of its Empire City ”, his best-selling autobiography of 2015.

After graduating with honors from Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, he received his BA from Manhattan College, LL.B. from St. John’s University, LL.M. from New York University School of Law and a master’s degree in public law. administration of Harvard University.

He also served the nation as a Navy in the 1960s and reached the rank of colonel. He’s a Vietnam War veteran.

After 50 years in the public service, Kelly is now an advisor and consultant to several companies mainly involved in technology and security. He is also a member of the boards of directors of the Archdiocese of New York and of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation. Kelly and his wife Veronica have two children, James and Greg.

Although Kelly does not currently work in the public service, he still has strong views on the issues facing New York City and beyond, including his expectation of an increase in terrorist threats and his concerns about the Haitian people.

Kelly has said he expects Eric Adams, elected mayor on Nov. 2, to help restore New York’s sanity in the face of increasing crime and violence. “He’s saying all the right things, and that’s good,” said the former commissioner. “I hope he lives up to these things when he officially takes office.”

Kelly observed that the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked terrible havoc in the city. He believes it will take years for New York City to regain some semblance of pre-Covid life, and a very important part of that is dealing with violent and uncontrollable crime.

“You know, after the death of George Floyd, the NYPD stopped doing a lot of the things that had contributed to its success in the past, like eliminating plainclothes cops and the Anti-Crime Unit, which was probably one of the most effective anti-crime. – anti-crime measures that the city has never had, ”he explained. “The city council has also piled up a deluge of restrictive laws, rules and regulations for cops, and [Mayor Bill de Blasio] defended this movement. Either the police will be allowed to do their job or the city will continue with an increase in violent crime. “

Although he believes the city can bounce back, Kelly admitted that he was concerned about the tendency of residents to leave the city, or considering to do so, due to the rise in crime.

“I can tell you that people call me all the time and they are scared,” he said. “They are afraid to go out on the streets or go out at night. And, of course, all the horror stories you hear about things that happened on the subway only compound that fear. I think we are at a very critical moment in the history of the city.

Kelly has called the controversial stop-and-search policy an important part of police work and believes the city doesn’t feel safer without it; he believes the police should intervene if they witness suspicious behavior, as this gives them more control over certain situations. Crime rates in the city fell by around 20% when police were able to search for people looking for weapons and illegal substances, he said. Critics of the stop-and-frisk call it invasive on individual privacy and easy to abuse, with racial profiling of African Americans and Hispanics a major concern.

“Well, it’s important to note that this is’ a stop, a question and sometimes a dig,” Kelly said in defending the now-halted NYPD practice. Completely legal tool in a police officer’s toolbox across America. It’s validated by a Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio. It’s in the statutes of the Criminal Procedure Act New York, and it’s the law in pretty much every state across the country. So it’s a legitimate function that has basically been completely sidelined. And that’s unfortunate because it’s a legitimate tool in the fight against The crime.

Kelly also disagrees with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s release of 191 Rikers Island inmates who had been convicted of parole violations – as part of efforts to reduce the state’s burgeoning prison population. Hochul also pledged that another 200 sentenced inmates would be released to various public facilities to complete the remainder of their sentence. Kelly also questioned this move.

He thinks it’s important to examine the entire troubled and maligned site.

“Rikers Island is a great place for a detention center, and it can be renovated. Essentially, you can build a whole new facility with cutting edge technology in place in one place. The very idea of ​​putting four separate prisons in the city will cause a lot of fighting now and forever, ”Kelly said of de Blasio’s plan. “And I think it makes sense to just sit there and not stir up a hornet’s nest.”

Internationally, Kelly has expressed concern about what is happening in Haiti.

Kelly received a commendation from President Clinton for his efforts in establishing an interim police force in Haiti; a reformed Haitian police service helped end human rights violations in the country in the mid-1990s.

He recalled serving in Haiti for six months, saying, “I really love the Haitian people. Kelly added, “They are hardworking and industrialists, but they just can’t seem to get a break. Life is so difficult in Haiti. When you see people walking for miles to get water and waiting in long lines for water, it’s heartbreaking. In fact, we have seen people eating dirt. You just can’t believe how poor some people are.

He went on to say that one of the major problems of the impoverished Caribbean nation is the inability of the industry to truly thrive there because the technological revolution has overtaken them.

Regarding the recent crisis involving Haitian migrants crossing the border from Mexico in Del Rio, Texas, Kelly said he believes it is unfair for anyone to jump forward on the immigration application line.

“There is a process to become an American citizen,” he said, “and I think it’s unfair to all these other people that’s in the line, trying to come here, just you. intimidate to enter the United States. And, yes, I feel for them, “he added,” but, you know, where does it end? How many people have said, “If you have no borders, you have no country”? ”

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