New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is leaving the city a much safer place than when he took over the job.
He's been the top cop for 12 years, which is a "phenomenal accomplishment" when compared to the fact that on average the city's police commissioner have usually served just 2.5 years, says Thomas Reppetto, the former president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City.
Kelly, a former Marine colonel, who leaves his post with the highest job ratings of any New York City official, took over the post shortly after the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, and since then there have been 16 planned terror attacks on the city. Not one has succeeded.
"To prevent a repeat, the new commissioner created the best police counterterrorism system in the country
," Reppetto writes in the New York Post. "Some allege that this leaves the NYPD spying on Islamic groups. In fact, it investigates individuals who urge publicly, such as on the Internet, that our citizens be bombed or gassed."
Kelly, who fought in the Vietnam War, is also being credited with slashing the murder rate in the city. In the first 11 years of his tenure, there were 5,849 killings compared to 13,212 in the previous 11 years. And crime in general has rolled back to rates not seen since the mid-1950s.
As a deputy inspector, Kelly was sent in to clean up the department in the wake of a police-brutality scandal in a Queens precinct and as first deputy commissioner he helped to quash the Crown Heights riots in 1991.
In 1993, he helped "calm" New York after terrorists bombed the World Trade Center. And in 1991, following bloody riots in Haiti, President Bill Clinton sent Kelly to the island country to stop human-rights violations while heading a team of international police monitors.
"Any police commissioner must expect some criticism, and it is the normal practice in New York for a new mayor to choose his own commissioner," added Reppetto. "However, it is wrong that certain critics should vilify a man with such a sterling record as Ray Kelly. As an independent observer of American police, I salute Kelly and say to him: Well done, Marine."
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is replacing Kelly with former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who served in the position previously from 1994 through 1996. Kelly is reportedly in talks to take the top security job
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