NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One day before the primary, and two days before the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, New York City’s police commissioner leveled an explosive charge against the people who hope to be the city’s next mayor.
Speaking Monday before the Association for a Better New York and the Council on Foreign Relations, Ray Kelly said security from global terrorism “must be a top priority for the next administration.”
“The analysis of the police department, the intelligence community, our recent experience tells us that New York remains squarely in the crosshairs of global terrorism,” he said. “This is a time for vigilance, not complacency.”
Kelly also said not a single candidate has asked to be briefed on how to keep the city safe from a terrorist attack, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
Kelly has been one of the most controversial figures in the 2013 mayoral race because of his stop-and-frisk program. On Monday he was back in the spotlight one day before voters had to pick their nominees.
“The threat of terrorism is as great if not greater today than it was before the World Trade Center was destroyed. I can tell you that none of the candidates has requested a briefing from the department on this topic,” Kelly said.
And with the 9/11 anniversary just two days away, Kelly questioned the commitment to combating terror among all the candidates — Democrat and Republican.
“I believe the public has the right to ask them some important questions. For example, what is their understanding of the terror threat to New York City and its immediacy. What is their perspective on the role the NYPD should play in protecting New York from global terrorism?” Kelly said.
“There are few questions more important than what the next mayor will do to protect the city from terrorism,” he added. “What do the candidates have to say? Will they devote the resources and manpower required for the task? Will they retain the programs and strategies that have kept the city safe or do they have a different approach? We simply don’t know.”
CBS 2 asked Democratic frontrunner Bill de Blasio about Kelly’s charges. He claimed he had requested a terror briefing from City Hall on Aug. 29 and received no reply. But the man who has been the most critical of the top cop’s stop-and-frisk program said he’ll keep Kelly’s ground-breaking anti-terrorism program and maybe even expand it.
“I believe fundamentally in maintaining our strong commitment to anti-terrorism work by the NYPD, keeping their force of anti-terrorism officer at about 1,000 that we now have,” de Blasio said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office later clarified its position with a statement, saying: ‘The Public Advocate’s Office made a request specific to steps the Police Department was taking after the President’s Syria announcement – and they were given a reply. Today, following Police Commissioner Kelly’s speech, they asked for a broader briefing on the Department’s counter-terrorism efforts. We are working with the NYPD to arrange that.”
And as other candidates crisscrossed the city Monday to get their voters to the polls they, too, had to confront Kelly’s concerns.
“Keeping this city safe both from terror and from other types of crimes is one of the most important jobs of the mayor. There’s no question about it. We have to keep this the safest big city in America,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.
“If he was that concerned it would have been nice if the commissioner had extended the invitation. I would have been happy to come in,” candidate Bill Thompson said. “We’re going to maintain vigilance under a Thompson administration. We’re not going to step back when it comes to terrorism.”
The other Democratic candidates, including Anthony Weiner, told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider meeting with Commissioner Kelly is not a necessity, especially at this point in the game.
“I think it’s reasonable to ask for a briefing, but wait until I’m the nominee, wait until I’m the mayor-elect,” Weiner said.
“Anybody who wants to be mayor should be well-versed in anti-terrorism. That does not mean that the commissioners are the only people we can seek advice from. I’ve spoken with many people on the issue of counterterrorism and what we need to do more of to keep people safe from terror,” John Liu added.
Kelly became the third so called “big fish” to inject himself into the mayoral campaign in the closing days of the campaign. On Saturday, Mayor Bloomberg charged that de Blasio was running a racist campaign by using his bi-racial family, and on Sunday Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended de Blasio and attacked the mayor.
The primary election is Tuesday.
For Democrats, the front-runner remains de Blasio, followed by Quinn, Thompson, ex-congressman Weiner and Comptroller Liu.
The Republican side is largely a contest between former transit agency chairman Joe Lhota and billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis.
If either party’s primary winner fails to get 40 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held Oct. 1.
Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.
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