Anti-Occupy mayor for NYC? Commissioner Kelly could run for Bloomberg's job

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (Reuters / Brendan McDermid)
If Mayor Michael Bloomberg is correct in calling the New York Police Department his army, then Commissioner Ray Kelly is the General Patton of the NYPD. Kelly has led the force through scandal after scandal, but is the mayoral mansion his next move?

Republicans in New York City are urging the controversial police chief to run as a GOP candidate for mayor next year, and so far the top-gun of the NYPD hasn’t said no. While the city awaits his decision, Commissioner Kelly is in the meantime garnering support as some of NYC’s leading authorities are also encouraging him to toss his hat in the race.

After more than a decade of current Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reign over the city, New Yorkers are preparing for a change in command, but with Kelly often acting as Bloomberg’s biggest fan, is a name change all the city will get if the commissioner campaigns and wins?

Last year alone, the reputation of New York City’s law enforcement was marred time and time again over an array of issues regarding misconduct within the force. Allegations of rape rocked the force in 2011 before two NYPD officers with acquitted over charges of raping an intoxicated woman at her Manhattan apartment in 2008. Just as the dust settled on that scandal, though, the Occupy Wall Street movement erupted in the city’s financial district and with it came a slew of cases involving cops infringing on the rights of both journalists and protesters alike, as well as a handful of allegations of police brutality alleged to stem from overzealous attacks carried out by New York’s boys in blue. Even earlier this week, the Associated Press was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their investigation into a top-secret unit within the NYPD that was composed to profile and spy on Muslims across New York. Despite these scandals, though, both Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly continue to be heralded by right-wing supporters as the dynamic duo who stand up for the city’s not-so-stellar track record time and time again.

“We would like to see him think more seriously about running for top office,” former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari says of a potential Kelly campaign for 2013. The New York Post reported on Monday that a high-ranking person involved in the city’s Republican Party also said that Kelly could be talked into running for mayor.

“I will be talking to the county leaders in the city about getting behind Ray Kelly, and I think he could defeat City Council Speaker Christine Quinn or one of the other liberal Democrats who are looking to run,” former New York GOP chairman William Powers adds to the Post.

Kelly had been known to not just adhere to the often controversial statements offered by New York’s current mayor, but to attack Occupy Wall Street demonstrators with condemnation over the protest movement’s ongoing series of strikes. With Kelly going on the record to put down the press’ role in documenting the rallies and marches of the movement, it could be all too expected to see that attitude continue from City Hall for at least another four years.

As thousands of protesters and members of the press were jailed following the start of the OWS movement last September, Commissioner Kelly was often quick to support the NYPD’s handling of the demonstrations, despite massive outcries of corruption and police brutality.

In November 2011, Kelly defended the arrests of several members of the press stemming from one single incident, telling the city’s NY1 News that reporters “didn't have a right to be there because there was confusion as to what they were allowed to do.”

On behalf of Mayor Bloomberg’s office, spokesperson Stu Loeser also added that reporters would indeed be held accountable for covering the OWS movement without NYPD-issued press passes, despite the department announcing that they would be suspending the act of issuing credentials.

A month later, Bloomberg himself added to Kelly and Loeser’s explanations, saying that the Freedom of Press isn’t always possible in New York.“The press made a big deal that they were denied their rights,” the mayor said in December during a segment on WOR Radio.“You don’t have a right as a press person, I don’t think, to stand in the way just in the interest of you getting a story.”

"We didn't keep anybody from reporting. They just had to stand to the side while the police did their job,” added the mayor.

With the NYPD accused throughout both Bloomberg and Kelly’s tenures of countless allegations of corruption, however, the job that the police department does often isn’t what New Yorkers would like to see. In fact, it would seem as if the top officials in New York have instead started taking charge of a city with a degree of control that the rest of America might cringe if subjected to. Last year Bloomberg told the New York Observer,"I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world.”

That quip came only a few weeks after Commissioner Kelly confirmed to CBS’ 60 Minutes that the NYPD has the capabilities to shoot down a plane and that the police force he oversees has“the device and the training” to engage in an operation usually reserved for the country’s military.

It may sound scary to some, but Kelly’s supporters — who can carry a lot of weight around New York — think it’s just business as usual for the commissioner.

“When I read the awful hatchet jobs that are being done on Ray, in The New York Times, in New York magazine, by the Associated Press, to see how he’s been treated when he’s a national hero, I know that it’s being done by the liberals who are trying to stop Ray Kelly,’’ William Powers adds.

“Ray Kelly is a great American and a great leader, and he’s made New York City safe and he’s made America safe.”