Police Commissioner Ray Kelly hasn't said too much about the fact he was (essentially) thrown under the bus by all the various Democratic mayoral candidates during primary season—just about all of them criticized stop-and-frisk and said they'd replace Kelly if they became mayor, including Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Kelly finally opened up about it to Playboy in a major interview published in this month's issue, and it's clear he doesn't think too highly of any of them. And in particular, he agrees when Playboy asks him if he thinks de Blasio and Bill Thompson are 'full of shit.'
"I resented it," Kelly said when asked about being used as a political football by the candidates. "I think I’ve had a long, distinguished career in public service. It just goes to show you what some politicians will do. They’ll say or do anything to get elected. I know all these people. They all claimed to be friends of mine up until their mayoral campaigns. They’d call me on the phone and ask for information or come over here and sit in this chair to get briefed." Sounds like someone has been blasting "No New Friends".
Kelly is openly skeptical about any long-term changes on the part of de Blasio: "They were talking about election-year politics. They were pandering to get votes. Whoever wins the primary always attempts to run back to the center and disavow the impact of what they’ve said." He's also annoyed that everyone is focusing on stop-and-frisk, and not any of the other police "tools" he's implement to derail crime, such as Operation Crew Cut and the Real Time Crime Center. Operation Lucky Bag was notably omitted.
Even so, he spends a good portion of the interview defending stop-and-frisk and lamenting that crime will go up if it is curtailed in any way: "It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that if you stop or curtail stop-and-frisk, or if cops are reluctant to do it, violent crimes are going to go up."
It's unclear who Kelly's brain surgeon is, but it's worth noting that the number of stop-and-frisks performed by the NYPD declined by 51% in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2012. At the same time, shootings and murders also dropped by 24% and 40% respectively in the same time period.
There is also this knotty exchange, in which Kelly seems to run in circles:
PLAYBOY: Can you understand how some young men of color who have been stopped for no reason may hate your guts?
KELLY: I don’t agree. The notion of hatred has been stirred up by a small number of advocacy groups that have done a great job at marketing this concept. You might read something snarky on Twitter, but I could take you right now to 125th Street in Harlem and young men will stop me for my picture and give me a very favorable and friendly greeting. They understand that we’re saving lives in their community, that they’re the ones at risk.
PLAYBOY: To be clear, what are the officers not allowed to do?
KELLY: They’re not allowed to stop someone based on their race. They’re not allowed to stop someone based on less than reasonable suspicion.
PLAYBOY: But you focus your efforts in black and Latino neighborhoods.
KELLY: Well, that’s where the crime is. That’s where the shootings are. That’s where the violence is. And that’s where we put our resources.
PLAYBOY: Put yourself in the shoes of a 17-year-old black teenager dressed in a hoodie and baggy pants, earplugs in, listening to music, a can of Coke in his pocket. You’re on your way home and haven’t done anything wrong. Out of the blue, cops stop you. Is that fair?
KELLY: It depends on why he’s being stopped. Was there a description on the radio of somebody committing a crime who looked like that young man? Was somebody fleeing a particular area? Is there gang activity there? Or did they think his can of Coke was a weapon? Stopping him is a legitimate law enforcement function.
PLAYBOY: But he won’t be stopped just because he’s black or because of what he’s wearing?
KELLY: No, absolutely not. You need reasonable suspicion.
PLAYBOY: Are you saying it has never happened that someone was stopped for no reason?
KELLY: I can’t say it has never happened. We have hundreds of thousands of stops a year. But generally stops happen for a legitimate reason, with reasonable suspicion.
Kelly also talks about how New York City is at "war" with terrorists ("This is war, and in most wars, professional soldiers don’t hate the enemy. Hatred can blind you in ways that mar your judgment.") and recounts many of the failed terrorist attacks over the course of his tenure: "Sixteen—including the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square, Herald Square, the subway system and JFK airport." The number sixteen is highly dubious—Kelly has repeatedly overstated the number of terrorist attacks his department has thwarted. Federal officials have also called some of these "plots" to be overhyped.
He also spends time talking about surveillance cameras, praising Bill and Hillary Clinton, his beloved custom-made suits, his interest in becoming a greeter at Walmart, and Mayor Bloomberg's compassion: "Oh, he has tremendous compassion. I’ve gone with him to hospitals many times to visit police officers who have been wounded, or to visit with the families of officers who have been killed. I see a very sensitive and warm person, very touched in those situations."
Despite or because of Kelly's smooth layering of bullshit, the whole interview is worth a read, if only for this anecdote about George W. Bush: "He was always friendly and funny. I was once in a car with him here in New York, and he said, 'Kelly, you ever notice when I’m driving down the block, everybody’s giving me the finger?' I said, 'They’re just saying you’re number one, Mr. President.'"