EXCLUSIVE: Police commissioner toasted at Ridge luncheon

A small group of local activists joined elected officials and NYPD brass at a Bay Ridge luncheon honoring Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

The meal, hosted by City Councilmember Vincent Gentile and held at Third Avenue’s Greenhouse Café, was an opportunity for community representatives to thank Kelly for his leadership, and for Kelly to update the group on the NYPD’s evolving crime-fighting techniques.

“It is my pleasure to have Commissioner Kelly here today and highlight his great service to the city of New York,” said Gentile.

Kelly has headed up the NYPD since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in January, 2002, presiding over a 40 percent crime reduction despite the fact that the police force has been reduced in size by about 6,000. This is Kelly’s second stint as police commissioner; he first served in that post under Mayor David Dinkins, from 1992 to 1994.

Kelly, for his part, said that the honors that he has received he “accept[s] on behalf of the over 50,000 members of the NYPD [police officers and civilians],” and he praised the force for all it has achieved despite the reduction in size, “which means people are pitching in and doing more with less.

“Last year, the number of murders and shootings was at a record low,” he told the group, noting that, so far in 2013, “We are running 25 percent below in each of these categories.”

As of the date of the lunch, October 15, there had been 256 murders so far in New York in 2013, meaning, said Kelly, that the city’s murder rate is the “Lowest among major cities in America.”

At the same time, he noted, the NYPD has been also actively been working on the counter-terrorism front. The threat, Kelly said, is an “enduring” one. “It’s not going to go away,” he warned – one reason why the NYPD, under Kelly, created the country’s first counterterrorism bureau and kicked off an international program whereby members of the force have been deployed in other countries to gather intelligence that can help the NYPD protect the city against future attacks.

It is such efforts that earned Kelly broad praise from the assembled group. Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny remarked that the good relationship between cops and community, “Really has become the foundation for safe neighborhoods.” Also key, he said, are the “innovations coming from the very top, the leadership of the Police Department and the leadership of the commands.”

“The relationship between police officers, the commanding officers and the community really is a wonderful thing,” added Assemblymember William Colton.

Borough President Marty Markowitz recalled that he had become a state senator representing Crown Heights, the neighborhood where he grew up, about the same time that Kelly – who joined the NYPD in 1963 — had taken the helm of the 71st Precinct there.

“Those days were different from these days,” noted Markowitz, adding, “Our future police commissioner was able to bring together Hasidic and African-American people in a way they somehow trusted the police.”

Then, turning to Kelly, Markowitz stressed, “This is a safer city because of you and the men and women that work under you. The historic turnaround in crime in the city is the basis of all the development we see in Brooklyn. If this weren’t a safe place to live, no one would invest a nickel here.”

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