Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says protecting Pope Francis during his upcoming visit to the Big Apple is extra-challenging because the pontiff loves to walk among the crowds and shake hands with well-wishers.
"The UN General Assembly is happening at the same time, but this is something that happens every year in New York — 135 heads of state, give or take a few. Now, the pope is superimposed on that," Kelly said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"His movements will be limited. However, he is a walker, which compounds the problem. He certainly is mobile and he wants to meet the people."
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Kelly is author of the new book, "Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City,"
published by Hachette, which chronicles his life in the military and law enforcement.
Kelly believes Pope Francis' visit should go smoothly.
The pope is scheduled to arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport at 5 p.m. next Thursday, then hold an evening prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral at 6:45 p.m.
On Friday at 8:45 a.m., the pontiff will meet with the United Nations General Assembly, then attend a multi-religious service held at the 9/11 Memorial Museum at 11:30 a.m.
Next will be a visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, followed by a 5 p.m. procession through Central Park. At 6 p.m., a Mass will be staged in Madison Square Garden.
"It'll go well, partly because of the NYPD experience. Lots of cops will be on duty, the Secret Service will be the lead agency as far as protecting the pope. NYPD and Secret Service work very well together," Kelly said.
"The real heartache will be with the people and pedestrians and people trying to drive their cars in the city. It's just a tough time to be in New York."
"In this day and age with social media, there's a lot of strange things that are out there. This is the type of person that you've got to scoop up. It's not like, hey let's see what he does."
Kelly, who is a retired Marine Corps Reserve Colonel, said he didn't originally set out to make a career as one of the world's best known leaders of cops.
"I didn't really have my sights on law enforcement. When I was a young, I did want to go into the Marine Corps. I had three older brothers in the Marine Corps so I had no choice," he told Malzberg.
"But the police department sort of evolved from that. It was, without a doubt, the best choice for me. I loved every minute of it, but it wasn't something burning in my stomach early on."
Kelly said the ongoing attacks on the work of police officers across the country by activist groups like Black Lives Matter is "disgraceful."
"Cops do such great work throughout the country. Crime has been down for two decades in the country as a result of smarter policing and proactive policing, we call it. There's been tremendous benefit," he said.
"Talk about 'Black Lives Matter' … We think black lives matter right here in this city and we've done an awful lot to save them."
Get Ray Kelly's New Book
-- "Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City" -- on Amazon
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