- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly took to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel Tuesday to defend the city’s stop-and-frisk program, which he said has been essential in reducing crime.

“It is a practice that is essential to policing. Police use it throughout America. As a matter of fact, you can’t police without doing it,” he said, adding that criticism of the practice has been “overblown.”

Commissioner Kelly pushed back against co-host Mika Brzezinski’s claim that many who are stopped are not doing anything wrong.

“The notion anyone stopped has done absolutely nothing wrong is not really the case,” Commissioner Kelly responded, giving an example that if a police officer saw someone walking around jiggling door handles on homes, though it’s not necessarily a crime, it’s still suspicious behavior that would warrant questioning.

“They need reasonable suspicion to stop and question someone,” he added.

As a federal court nears a decision over the legality of stop-and-frisk, Mr. Kelly penned an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal on  Monday, titled “NYPD: Guilty of Saving 7,383 Lives.”

“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,” he wrote. “Racial profiling is a disingenuous charge at best and an incendiary one at worst, particularly in the wake of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. The effect is to obscure the rock-solid legal and constitutional foundation underpinning the police department’s tactics and the painstaking analysis that determines how we employ them.”

“As a city, we have to face the reality that New York’s minority communities experience a disproportionate share of violent crime. To ignore that fact, as our critics would have us do, would be a form of discrimination in itself,” Commissioner Kelly concluded.

The NYPD veteran has been floated as a possible replacement for Janet Napolitano, who is stepping down as secretary of homeland security, NBC News reported.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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