Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Two-time New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly opens up about his remarkable life, taking us inside fifty years of law enforcement leadership, offering chilling stories of terrorist plots after 9/11, and sharing his candid insights into the challenges and controversies cops face today.
The son of a milkman and a Macy's dressing room checker, Ray Kelly grew up on New York City's Upper West Side, a middle-class neighborhood where Irish and Puerto Rican kids played stickball and tussled in the streets. He entered the police academy and served as a marine in Vietnam, living and fighting by the values that would carry him through a half century of leadership-justice, decisiveness, integrity, courage, and loyalty.
Kelly soared through the NYPD ranks in decades marked by poverty, drugs, civil unrest, and a murder rate that, at its peak, spiked to over two thousand per year. Kelly came to be known as a tough leader, a fixer who could go into a troubled precinct and clean it up. That reputation catapulted him into his first stint as commissioner, under Mayor David Dinkins, where Kelly oversaw the police response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and spearheaded programs that would help usher in the city's historic drop in crime.
Eight years later, in the chaotic wake of the 9/11 attacks, newly elected mayor Michael Bloomberg tapped Kelly to be NYC's top cop once again. After a decade working with Interpol, serving as undersecretary of the Treasury for enforcement, overseeing U.S. Customs, and commanding an international police force in Haiti, Kelly understood that New York's security was synonymous with our national security. Believing that the city could not afford to rely solely on "the feds," he succeeded in transforming the NYPD from a traditional police department into a resource-rich counterterrorism-and-intelligence force.
In this vital memoir, Kelly reveals the inside stories of his life in the hot seat of "the capital of the world"-from the terror plots that nearly brought a city to its knees to his dealings with politicians, including Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama as well as Mayors Rudolph Giuliani, Bloomberg, and Bill DeBlasio. He addresses criticisms and controversies like the so-called stop-question-and-frisk program and the rebuilding of the World Trade Center and offers his insights into the challenges that have recently consumed our nation's police forces, even as the need for vigilance remains as acute as ever.
politicians who complain most loudly about “stop and frisk” want it. You’ll notice they almost never demand that we quit stopping people behaving suspiciously. They call for “a more appropriate number of stops” without ever detailing how many that might be. The practice must be event driven, not numbers driven. To anyone concerned about crime today, ending these street stops would make no sense at all. The reason is obvious: If a police officer stops someone acting suspiciously, someone whose
up dead at the hands of a police officer. But there is strong evidence in this case that the teenager confronted the police officer in a highly aggressive fashion, clearly justifying the officer’s response. Brown’s DNA was found on Officer Wilson’s collar and gun. There was an additional irony in the Brown case. Though Officer Wilson was not charged, the shooting did highlight severe problems inside the Ferguson police department: hostile relations with the community, an abysmal diversity
interested,” he told me immediately. We met at the Roosevelt Hotel. Frank was great to talk to—totally direct, a hard charger, a Silver Star awardee who’d been wounded in Vietnam. The man had presence. He’d done all these things I admired. I laid out a very abbreviated version of my counterterror vision. I asked if he’d like to join me. He said, “Yes, sir,” and I had my new deputy commissioner to run the Counter-Terrorism Bureau. Unlike Libutti, David Cohen was someone I knew. During his
booking. Very few drivers say “thank you” after being cited for an illegal U-turn. Then add race, culture, economics, alcohol, drugs, rage, politics, and a dozen other factors into the equation. Relations between police and citizens can sometimes grow testy or worse, igniting harsh feelings on both sides. I knew that reestablishing community relationships had to be a high priority. Several high-profile cases in the Giuliani years had exacerbated the tension between the police and the community.
Department, and director of the Counterterrorist Center at the CIA, where he’d spent twenty-eight years in the war on terror. A world-renowned expert on terrorism and transportation security with four decades of experience, Jenkins had provided terror-fighting advice to everyone from the U.S. military to the State Department to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Catholic Church. No one had to explain to either man why a high-profile, vulnerable building shouldn’t stand right next to a busy