After two stints as police commissioner, including the last 12 years under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Ray Kelly is in what are expected to be his final few days at One Police Plaza. NY1's Dean Meminger sat down with him for a wide-ranging talk about terrorism, crime and Kelly's legacy. He filed the following report, Part 1 of that interview.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says when it comes to potential terrorist attacks, he wants everyone to understand something.
"New York is the number one target. I don't think it makes any sense to sugarcoat that," he says. "They want to come here. They want to kill New Yorkers."
That's why over the last 12 years, he has built an army of officers to safeguard the city against attacks.
"We have made major investments into the world of counterterrorism, in personnel, in training, into equipment. So we have done a lot," Kelly says. "But can I say with certainty that, hey, it is this element that makes the most difference? No I cannot."
He says that intelligence gathering has been extremely useful, and believes there needs to be more questioning of terrorists.
"To a certain extent, we have to rely on intelligence and talking to people who are arrested for terrorist events here," he says. "It's something I think we should do more of, by the way, more debriefing of people who have been arrested and convicted of terrorist events, not only here, but other places as well."
There have been plenty of complaints by the Muslim community that they've been unfairly put under police surveillance and treated as potential terrorists. Kelly says that the New York City Police Department is only following tips to prevent attacks.
"I don't know what people would expect us to do, other than adhere to the law and to be proactive as far as protecting the citizens of New York City," Kelly said. "That's what we are, that's what we do, and I'm proud of it."
He's also proud of a nearly 50 percent decrease in murders since he took over 12 years ago.
However, the use of stop-and-frisk in black and Latino communities became a lightning rod that struck the police department with allegations of racial profiling.
Kelly: Don't get me wrong, I understand nobody wants to get stopped, nobody wants to, at the very least, lose their time. Hopefully, it's done respectfully.
Q: But sometimes, it's not.
Kelly: Sometimes it isn't. We're human beings here, and I think there's a certain balance that has to kick in.
"Good things have happened here, and we're at record lows for crimes of violence," Kelly added. "The beneficiaries of that, to a large extent, are communities of color."