Is Ray Kelly’s NYPD Spinning Out of Control?

Between racist cops, rape cops, ticket-fixers, gun-runners and 'white shirts' gone wild, New York's Finest are losing their shine. Is the commissioner to blame?

Mr. Kelly has seen much worse during his decades on the job, Mr. Browne noted. It’s nothing like 1971, the department spokesman wrote, “when Mr. Kelly was a sergeant and 12 NYPD officers were killed in the line of duty, compared to one in the last year and zero last year.”

And it beats 1981, “when Mr. Kelly was an assistant chief and there were 725,866 crimes committed in the city, compared to 188,164 last year.”

And even 1990, “when Mr. Kelly was a first deputy commissioner and there were 2,245 murders in the city, compared to the 426 so far this year.”

In short, it’s all relative.

Nonetheless, it hasn’t helped that as his officers appear on the courthouse steps and in YouTube videos and the pages of city tabloids, Mr. Kelly is more often spotted in party photos in glossy magazines and websites like NY Social Diary. The contrast isn’t lost on rank and file officers, a law enforcement expert told The Observer.

“There’s so much work to do to fix [the NYPD], and for whatever reason Ray Kelly has gotten into this whole celebrity thing,” said the expert. “You talk to cops and they follow this stuff.”

Still, it wasn’t until the ticket-fixing protest on Friday that the tensions within the NYPD became public. Hours before Mr. Kelly addressed reporters, a swarm of cops in street clothes arrived at the courthouse after being summoned via text messages sent by their respective benevolent societies. Packed behind barricades, they held up signs reading “Courtesy Is Not a Crime,” jeered at news reporters, denounced the district attorney, and even exchanged words with civilians lined up at a benefits center across the street.

“Taking care of your family, taking care of your friends, taking care of those that support New York City police officers and law enforcement is not a crime,” Patrolman’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch explained outside the arraignments.

A retired sergeant who served during Mr. Kelly’s tenure and asked not to be named attributed many of the issues facing the NYPD to a laissez-faire culture.

“Officers don’t start off being corrupt,” he said, adding that conducting a stop-and-frisk is another abuse of power. “They start off with little things, like abusing people’s rights, and when they get away with that, then more and more their disrespect for procedures, for protocol, for the law, increases, and they get into other things.”

Stop-and-frisks have skyrocketed during Mr. Kelly’s tenure.