NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s experience with fighting terrorism has been cited as the reason why two lawmakers want him to take over as secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) have both called for Kelly to take over, as after current secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday she was resigning to take a job as president of the University of California system.
As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, the NYPD is well-known for springing quickly into action whenever there is a terrorist event anywhere around the world. Kelly’s Hercules teams swiftly secure high-profile locations in the city.
Over his tenure as police commissioner, Kelly has been credited with strengthening security in the city by land, air and sea. He noted in a 2011 interview with CBS News’ Scott Pelley that the NYPD even has the means to take down an aircraft, should such a need ever arise.
“Ray Kelly has extensive experience with anti-terrorism, with homeland security, and he’s run a very large organization — the New York Police Department — extremely well for over a decade,” Schumer said in endorsing Kelly for Homeland Security secretary.
Schumer said the leader of the department should be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts and is a top-notch administrator.
He says Kelly excels at all three.
“Ray Kelly is the man for the job – New York’s loss would be [the] nation’s gain,” said Schumer in a statement.
“There is no doubt Ray Kelly would be a great DHS Secretary, and I have urged the White House to very seriously consider his candidacy. While it would be New York’s loss, Commissioner Kelly’s appointment as the head of DHS would be a great boon for the entire country. Janet Napolitano has done an outstanding job, and if I had to give her a grade on her tenure, it would be ‘A+’. We need someone just as good who can fill her shoes,” Schumer said.
Long Island Congressman Peter King echoed those sentiments.
“I don’t know if he wants the job or not, but the job certainly needs him, so that’s why I’m strongly, strongly supporting Commissioner Kelly for Homeland Security secretary,” King said.
There have been several attempted terrorist attacks stopped under Kelly’s watch, including the attempts to bomb synagogues in the Bronx and attempted subway bombings.
“We’re a city that has been successfully attacked twice,” Kelly said earlier this month. “We must be vigilant. We must be aware. We must devote the resources to it and it’s precisely what we’re doing.”
But there could be some sticking points to Kelly getting the job. Among them is the controversial stop-and-frisk procedure, which Kelly stands by, and which is currently in the hands of a federal judge who is trying to determine whether it is constitutional.
There also has been tension in the past between the relationship of Kelly with some in the FBI, following NYPD surveillance on mosques outside New York City following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Kelly is not the first NYPD commissioner to be considered for Homeland Security secretary.
In 2004, former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik was nominated by President George W. Bush to replace Tom Ridge – the first Homeland Security secretary. But Kerik was forced to withdraw his name amid allegations including conspiracy and fraud – charges that landed him a prison sentence.
Michael Chertoff ended up getting the job, and he was followed by Napolitano.
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