7 Things to Know about New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

Associated Press

1.) Kelly is an ardent supporter of stop-and-frisk, a law enforcement tactic a federal judge ruled this week as unconstitutional in NYC for “indirect racial profiling.” From The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Kelly says that stop-and-frisk is a critical—and constitutional—part of this success. "We put our officers right in the middle of where the problems are, mostly minority areas," says the 43-year veteran of the NYPD. "You develop very quickly a sense of who's doing right and who's doing wrong—and who's carrying a gun."

What counts as suspicious? Mr. Kelly mentions "scouting out a car, or following people." Or several young men waiting outside a bodega near closing time, or standing in the shadows near an ATM.

As Mr. Kelly describes it, when a police officer observes such activity, he is allowed to approach people and "ask them the nature of their business, what they're doing."

2.) Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is throwing his support behind Kelly to become the next head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Upon Sec. Janet Napolitano’s announcement in July that she would be stepping down from the role, Schumer advocated for his recommendation to the New York Post:

Almost immediately, Schumer — a powerhouse on immigration issues who met with Obama the day before the announcement — trumpeted his support for Kelly.

Schumer even called Obama’s chief of staff, Dennis McDonough, to make a pitch.

The agency’s leader “needs to be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts, and is a top-notch administrator, and at the NYPD Ray Kelly has proven that he excels in all three,” Schumer said.

3.) Kelly oversees a police force unmatched in the United States. From Newsweek:

With 34,500 sworn officers of the law and a $4.4 billion budget, the NYPD has a size and coherence no other local police force in America—and few in the world—can come close to matching. Indeed, the FBI, with its national and global responsibilities, counts only about 14,000 agents.

4.) Theodore Roosevelt – as in President Theodore Roosevelt -- is a predecessor to Kelly, serving in the 1890s. From Newsweek:

Kelly loves to cite lines from Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” speech: “It is not the critic who counts,” said T.R. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly. His place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

As Kelly once told my colleague, veteran city reporter Michael Daly, that quotation inspires him. “It’s something that motivates you to keep trying, keep fighting, keep going forward.”

5.) He doesn’t mind his rock music. From Time Magazine:

“I like music, a lot of different types of music. I went to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame show not that long ago, and Talking Heads came back together. I ran out and bought their albums.”

6.) This isn’t Kelly’s first rodeo as New York City’s top law enforcer. Before returning to the position in 2002, he served in the position for two years in the early 90s. From Newsweek:

Ray Kelly was police commissioner once before, in the early 1990s, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center by detonating a large bomb in the underground garage, killing six people and injuring a thousand. Back then Kelly still believed the feds could keep his city safe. But the 9/11 attacks changed his mind: the NYPD would have to become a counterterror force in its own right.

7.) Upon taking back over as police commissioner in 2002, Kelly set up the city’s own counterterror unit. As he told Time Magazine in 2003:

“We can't rely solely on the federal government to help us… If something happens, God forbid, the police department and fire department are by definition first responders here.”