The year is coming to a close. During this time of the year, people concentrate on starting anew. The New Year is synonymous with an opportunity to improve oneself on a personal and professional level. It’s ironic; this time frame also results in reflection. People review the positive experiences and continue what works well. It is with this thought in mind, as a law enforcement officer and adjunct professor I need to take the time to say, thank you to NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
On January 1, 2014, William Bratton will receive a warm welcome as he officially assumes the position of NYPD Police Commissioner. Ray Kelly’s excellent tenure is the foundation Police Commissioner William Bratton will stand upon once Kelly formally passes the baton to him. The NYPD has never functioned better than under Ray Kelly.
Ray Kelly has led the good fight. He protected the infrastructure of NYC, its residents, the commuters, and those who visit this metropolis. On 9/11, NYC was attacked, as was the Pentagon on a day lives were stolen.
Less than four months later, January 1, 2002, Commissioner Ray Kelly assumes command. This is not just another police commissioner being appointed to manage and oversee a police department. There was far more required of Kelly than those who preceded him.
The changing times placed Ray Kelly in the unique position. Along with addressing the traditional demands required of a police commissioner, Kelly also had to protect NYC from further acts of international terrorism. As he did this, he also addressed circumventing the possibility of domestic terrorism. The NYPD needed a leader with the ability to execute unprecedented duties. Ray Kelly led the way from 2002 through 2013.
Why is it necessary to say thank you? Look at his accomplishments. Since 2002, crime rates have significantly declined, the murder rate is at a historic low, and 13 terror plots were thwarted. A successful attack has not been carried out against NYC since Kelly was placed at the helm. These accomplishments tend to be unrecognized and unappreciated.
Kelly spent over a decade focused on establishing a safer streets campaign as the city grew in population by more than a million new residents since 1990. His success is outstanding when one considers the NYPD is functioning with 6,000 fewer officers now than when Kelly first became commissioner.
The combination of an increased population with a decrease in personnel, along with the added burden of overcoming terrorists is not the traditional formula for success. The media rarely focuses on this achievement. Kelly was so successful it was only normal to wonder if there was a downside to his concept of policing.
In time, the major challenge Kelly faced was generated by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The NYPD was accused of racial profiling. Kelly repeatedly made it clear police personnel were placed in high-crime areas to protect the people who live in these communities.
The Stop and Frisk program under Kelly is an outgrowth of action taken in 1994, when William Bratton first served as the NYPD Police Commissioner. Bratton introduced a data-driven management model to the NYPD called CompStat (Computer Statistics). This data-management application is credited with decreasing crime and increasing quality of life in NYC. Due to its success in New York, CompStat was used as a management model focused on crime reduction.
The CompStat process is guided by four principles:
– Accurate and timely intelligence – Know what is happening!
– Effective tactics – Have a plan.
– Rapid deployment – Do it quickly.
– Relentless follow-up and assessment – If it works, do more. If not, do something else!
The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit against the NYPD and the City of New York for discriminatory practices of the Stop and Frisk policy. Ray Kelly explained on numerous occasions how Stop and Frisk works as well as why it works. Unfortunately, his efforts fell on deaf ears.
On Monday, August 12, 2013, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk tactics violated the constitutional rights of the city’s minorities. The judge found that NYPD resorted to a policy of indirect racial profiling as it increased the number of stops in minority communities.
The judge concluded officers’ routinely stop blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white. That would be true at times when routine patrol is in place, not when high-crime areas are being monitored to protect the citizens.
The ruling appeared to undue all the good achieved over 11 years of solid police management, and damaged the image of Ray Kelly until the ruling was reversed.
On October 31, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Scheindlin’s ruling and removed the judge from the case as other appeals are heard. The three-judge panel ruled the lower-court judge “ran afoul” of requirements that judges avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
The appeals court indicated Scheindlin, jeopardized “the appearance of partiality by participating in a series of media interviews and public statements criticizing the District Court.”
Scheindlin, in a related 2007 proceeding, said, “If you got proof of inappropriate racial profiling in a good constitutional case, why don’t you bring a lawsuit? You can certainly mark it as related,” adding, “I am sure I am going to get in trouble for saying it, for $65 you can bring that lawsuit,” the ruling said.
The ruling also points to interviews with the New York Law Journal, The Associated Press, and The New Yorker, in which the judge spoke about her personal beliefs on the issue and defended her decision. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals returned to Kelly his stature as a leader.
The ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals is also subject to appeal. It appears an appeal will not be necessary. Mayor Elect Bill de Biasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton will take office on January 1. Each has talked about implementing changes. I welcome change, which will enhance the efforts presently in place. I do wish both Mayor Bill de Biasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton the best of luck after I first do what must be done.
Commissioner Ray Kelly, I thank you!
Jim Gaffney, MPA is Law Enforcement Today’s risk management /police administration contributor. He has served with a metro-New York police department for over 25 years in varying capacities, culminating with Executive Officer and PIO. He is a member of ILEETA, IACP, IACSP, and FBI – LEEDA. Jim is a Certified Force Science Analyst. He mentors law enforcement’s next generation as an adjunct criminal justice professor in the New York City area. Jim brings the street into the classroom to prepare students today for their roles as police officers tomorrow. He is CEO of Bright Line Consulting and can be reached via www.brightlinepoliceconsulting.com
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