If NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill didn’t have enough on his mind with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State Police power grab, ex-commissioner Ray Kelly is trying to reprise parts of his controversial Muslim-spying policy. He recently told radio host John Catsimatidis: “Hopefully, we’ll see in the next year or so a turnaround as far as proactive policing is concerned.”
And Long Island Congressman Peter King is urging President-elect Donald Trump to adopt the spying policy. “I would set up a surveillance program similar to what Ray Kelly did to get to know people in [Muslim] communities so you can reach out to get a better read,” he told amNew York.
But what many seem to forget is that Kelly ignored or antagonized virtually all of his potential terrorism-fighting law enforcement partners. Hardly the way to fight terrorism.
In 2003, undercover NYPD detectives traveled to New Jersey to surveil scuba shops by phone to determine whether they were vulnerable to terrorism. When Jersey authorities learned of the calls, they told the NYPD “to cease and desist all such activity.”
A similar situation occurred that October in Carlisle, Pa., after explosives were reported stolen from a local business and NYPD detectives began questioning witnesses. The local police chief, who was conducting the investigation with the feds, told the detectives that “. . . if we need their help, we will give them a call.”
In 2006, Kelly created the urban equivalent of a Mexican standoff with the Port Authority Police in a turf war over patrolling Ground Zero. For months, NYPD patrol cars sat outside Ground Zero’s locked gates. Authority cops sat in patrol inside.
The bombing in Chelsea in September mercifully resulted in no deaths, limited damages and unprecedented cooperation among law enforcement agencies leading to a quick arrest. Most notably, there was seamless cooperation between the NYPD and the FBI. The head of the FBI’s NYC office took the lead at a news conference at Police Plaza just days after the bombing. That would not have occurred under Kelly.
“We are very comfortable with what we are doing in fighting terrorism because we have a great relationship with our federal partners,” said NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis last week. That was not the case under Kelly.