A Sunday editorial in the New York Times called for a Justice Department review of the New York Police Department’s actions, not focused on its “constitutionally suspect surveillance practices,” but also the use of stop-and-frisks. According to the Times, the NYPD’s abuses of power “have virtually eliminated the presumption of innocence and that treat citizens, and even entire communities, as suspect even after they are proved innocent.” In response, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News lent Commissioner Ray Kelly a sympathetic ear in Monday’s edition, with both men taking the opportunity to scoff at the haters. “Maybe they’re not comfortable with success,” Kelly said, simply.
Kelly, the city’s longest-serving police commissioner ever, promises, “I’m not going anywhere.” Under his rule, the News notes, there has been a drop in the number of officers due to budget cuts, but also a lowered murder rate. “Think about math like that,” Lupica writes, calling the Times editorial “overwrought.”
Last week, Kelly lashed out at City Council members who questioned the work of the department, including spying on Muslim communities, which has been shown to reflect little more than religious profiling. Speaking to Lupica, Kelly gets a bit flip with the criticisms: “Sometimes it sounds sometimes like people are more comfortable stereotyping me,” he said.
Kelly also accuses his opponents of forgetting about 9/11. “People have short memories, they just do. They do,” he said. “I live downtown and pass Ground Zero every single day. Maybe that’s why it’s on my mind more than it is with other people. [Sept. 11] is an event that should never ever escape the consciousness of New York. But sometimes I think it does.”
“Listen, I know we’d all like to go back to a more peaceful time in America,” he continued. “That’s just not the country in which we live, and it’s certainly not the world in which we live. Sometimes I believe there’s this notion that if we don’t have a threat for two months, well, things are getting better. Only they’re not. This is a long-term war we’re in against terrorism, and we are going to continue to do what we’re doing.” And hopefully, those in the business of asking questions and encouraging oversight will keep at it as well, even if it tests Kelly’s patience.