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Tearing Apart New York Top Cop Ray Kelly's Shameless Lies About the NYPD's Racist Policies

A paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal to NYPD Commissioner and would-be Homeland Security Chief Ray Kelly.


New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who is, let’s hope, worried about his job security and hoping to be named the next Secretary of Homeland Security,  wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal defending his record. Many of his points came directly from  a speech given by Kelly to the black civil rights group the National Action Conventionearlier this year. Let’s address each of his claims one by one.

Since 2002, the New York Police Department has taken tens of thousands of weapons off the street through proactive policing strategies. The effect this has had on the murder rate is staggering. In the 11 years before Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office, there were 13,212 murders in New York City. During the 11 years of his administration, there have been 5,849. That’s 7,383 lives saved—and if history is a guide, they are largely the lives of young men of color.

The 11 years before Michael Bloomberg took office included the peak of a nationwide, generational surge in violent crime that has (mysteriously) declined ever since. In 2000, before Michael Bloomberg took office,  the New York Times could write:

Statistically, New York, Boston and San Diego have all achieved enormous declines since crime began dropping nationally in 1991. From 1991 to 1998, the murder rate fell 76.4 percent in San Diego, the largest decline of any major city, with New York second at 70.6 percent and Boston third at 69.3 percent, according to Alfred Blumstein, a professor of criminology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Their robbery rates showed a similar pattern. During those same years, the robbery rate dropped 62.6 percent in San Diego, also the steepest decline, and 60.1 percent in New York and 50.2 percent in Boston.

As the article — well worth reading in full — goes on to explain, those other cities didn’t fight crime with “aggressive” policing, but with community-focused “problem-solving policing” among other strategies. In New York, the decline, which began under Mayor David Dinkins, has continued under Bloomberg and Kelly, but there is just as much evidence (which is to say, entirely circumstantial evidence) that those 7,000 lives were saved by  the elimination of lead-based paint as by stop-and-frisk.

(Meanwhile, under Kelly, 400,000 people — largely young men of color — have been added to the criminal justice system after being  arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.)


So far this year, murders are down 29% from the 50-year low achieved in 2012, and we’ve seen the fewest shootings in two decades.

Kelly does not mention that murders have declined along with stop-and-frisks. In the first quarter of this year,  the NYPD carried out 51 percent fewer stop-and-frisks than in the first quarter of 2012. That is more than 100,000 fewer stops. The result has not been more murder.


To critics, none of this seems to much matter. Sidestepping the fact that these policies work, they continue to allege that massive numbers of minorities are stopped and questioned by police for no reason other than their race.

Again, there is no actual evidence that “these policies” — Kelly notably refuses to ever use the phrase “stop-and-frisk” — “work.” It is inescapably true, though, that  massive numbers of minorities are stopped and questioned by the police. Far, far more minorities than whites are stopped. This is not really in question. Kelly’s argument is that these stops are justified because minorities are more likely to be the victims of crimes and more likely to be described as suspects. In other words, he defends racial profiling as necessary and prudent while also denying that it happens.

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