Running for mayor may be out of the question for Ray Kelly, but he’s apparently still winning votes.
According to recent polls conducted by Quinnipiac University, the police commissioner’s approval rating is higher than ever: 75 percent of New York City voters approve of Mr. Kelly’s performance.
Additionally, voters’ approval of the New York police is 70 percent—the highest it’s been since early 2002, in the months following 9/11.
At the same time, 50 percent of voters disapprove of the police’s stop-and-frisk tactic, a practice that’s frequency has dramatically increased since Mr. Kelly became commissioner in 2002 (97,000 stop-and-frisks were recorded in 2002, compared with nearly 700,000 in 2012).
Where it gets interesting is that even though the NYCLU has argued that minorities are disproportionately being targeted for stop-and-frisks, they still have Mr. Kelly’s back.
When it comes to Mr. Kelly’s performance, 63 percent black voters approve of Mr. Kelly and 76 percent of Hispanic voters support him.
These statistics are slightly diminished when demographics are asked about their approval of police in general: 56 percent of black voters approve and 67 percent Hispanic voters support their men in blue.
“Perhaps because of the Newtown massacre of because of the recent announcement that murder in the Big Apple is at an all-time low, or both, New York City voters like their top cop and all their cops even more,” said poll director Maurice Carroll.
Mr. Kelly has argued that stop-and-frisks haven’t actually become more commonplace; they’re just better recorded now.
“[In 2002] we weren’t able to record and it wasn’t being reported,” he said. “We’re being criticized for better record keeping.”
Stop-and-frisk controversy aside, New Yorker voters seem to like Mr. Kelly’s beliefs and policies.
Mr. Kelly, for instance, has sided with Mayor Bloomberg in advocating for increased gun control. New York voters, in turn, were in favor 80 percent to 17 percent of a nationwide assault weapons ban. Seventy-eight percent of voters said they wanted stricter statewide gun laws.
Voters also seem pleased with the city’s low homicide rates under Mr. Kelly, even though overal crime has increased in the past year, with only eight percent citing crime as New York City’s greatest problem, behind the economy (26 percent) and education (18 percent).
“Only 8 percent citing crime as the city’s most important problem? There was a time when crime was number one,” Mr. Carroll said.
Whatever the reason for Mr. Kelly’s popularity, the 2013 mayoral candidates should pay attention: By a 63 percent to 19 percent split, voters said they would lean towards a candidate who promised to keep Kelly on as police commissioner.