Provost Sandra Affenito:
Founded in 2008, the Todd Lecture series is made possible by the generosity of Ellen and John Drew, Todd’s daughter and son-in-law and the Drew foundation. Norwich University is in the middle of our five year countdown for our bicentennial in 2019. This year celebrates our year of legacy. Our speaker this evening is one whose own legacy in the fields of law enforcement, justice, counter terrorism and leadership are unparalleled.
With 50 years in public service including 14 years as police commissioner of the City of New York, Raymond Kelly is one of the world’s most well-known and highly esteemed leaders in law enforcement. Former commissioner Kelly is the longest servicing police commissioner in New York City’s history as well as the first to hold the post for a second separate tenure. He’s remarkable.
In 2002 in the wake of 9/11, Commissioner Kelly created the first counter terrorism bureau of any municipal police department in the country. He also established a new global intelligence program, stationing New York City detectives in 11 foreign cities. Under his strong leadership, the NYPD reduced violent crime by 40% from 2001 levels, while also dedicating extensive resources to the successful prevention of any future terrorist attacks.
Commissioner Kelly also established the Real Time Crime Center, a state-of-the-art facility that uses data mining to search millions of computer records and put investigative leads into the hands of detectives in the fields. In his career in public service, Commissioner, Kelly also directed the international police force in Haiti, he served as the Vice President of Interpol from 1996 to 2000 and commissioner of the US Customs Services and Under Secretary of Enforcement of the US Treasury Department.
A Marine Corps veteran Commissioner Kelly served on active military duty for three years, including a combat tour in Vietnam. He retired as a colonel from the Marine Corps Reserves after 30 years of service, thank you. Commissioner Kelly holds a BBA from Manhattan College, a JD from St John’s University School of Law, an LLM from New York University Graduate School of Law and an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Kelly is a distinguished visiting fellow at the council on foreign relations, an ABC news contributor, a member of the advisory board of the Counter Extremism project and a member of the board of directors of the Boys’ Club of New York. Would you please all join me as it is a true honor indeed, a real honor to be here this evening and please join me with a very warm welcome to the fall 2017 Todd Lecture, Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Thank you very much. Thank you, great to be here, thank you.
On behalf of our university, we’re truly honored. Joining Commissioner Kelly on stage are students from Norwich’s undergraduate and graduate programs, whose questions will help direct our conversation this evening. This conversation will be moderated by Professor Travis Morris, who directs our Norwich University’s Peace and War Center, which is an interdisciplinary academic center for both student and faculty based work on the many facets of peace and war.
Professor Morris is also an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice. Dr. Morris holds a PhD from the University of Nebraska, an MS in Criminal Justice, from the Eastern Kentucky University and a BA in criminology from Northern Illinois University. He served as a ranger qualified infantry officer with the 10th Mountain Division US army and a police officer in Lexington Kentucky.
Last year he directed the Norwich University National Championship team in a collegiate competition sponsored by the US Department of the State and the Department of Homeland Security aimed at countering domestic and foreign online radicalization. Without further ado, I ask Professor Morris to join me at the podium and I thank you to begin our conversation.
Thank you very much Provost Affenito for your kind remarks. And also, Commissioner Kelly, again, it’s truly an honor to have you here at Norwich University and appreciate all the things you’ve already done during your day here interacting with our students and staff and faculty. Before this evening even continues thank you very much, sir, in advance.
For all of you that are assembled here, President Schneider, distinguished guests, visitors, staff faculty and students, again welcome to the opening of the 2017-2018 Todd Lecture series. I just want to cover a couple of administrative notes to get us started and some ground rules, if you will. Please if you have a cell phone absolutely make sure that it is either off or that it’s on silent.
For those of you that don’t know this is being broadcast live via the web. For those of us that are joining via the internet, we welcome you and thank you so much for joining us. After the presentation and the discussion, the commissioner will be signing copies of his books, which are available in the back over in Milano.
Just a final administrative note, at quarter to you’re going to see two microphones being brought down the aisle and if you have question that is your cue to go ahead and stand behind the mics. So as soon as we’re done, we will start taking questions from the audience. Again if you’re interested in asking Commissioner Kelly who has graciously agreed to take questions, please when you see the mics you can stand in line behind them.
First of all I would also like again just to welcome our guests. If you’re currently a police officer, have retired as a police officer, or in any capacity served as a police officer, we’d ask that you could stand. Go ahead and stand please. All right, let’s give them a round of applause. Thank you, thank you so much, thank you for your service, absolutely.
Here at Norwich we’ve in the business of producing leaders for almost 200 years now, and service is our corner stone. If you’re in the audience as a student and you’re interested in serving in law enforcement in some capacity, either after military service or directly, can you stand, just to show your interest? If you’re interested in being a law enforcement officer in some capacity.
Also, Commissioner Kelly I do this for you just so that you can see that when we talk about service this is where we send a lot of our graduates. Okay thank you very much students. So we’re proud of you already, and we’re proud of what you’re going to do and hopefully in the future we can have one of you back here sitting on stage in this capacity. We know that it can happen.
Not to take any more time up, we’re here for the commissioners input, for his leadership, for his extensive background and the incredible things that he’s done. One of the most toughest positions available in law enforcement, and he did it well. Let me introduce the students, many of you know them but let me just go over their bios just real quick, so you get a sense of who’s on stage. For those of you that are visiting this gives you just a slice of some of our students here.
Tim Weinhold, to my left here, is a criminal justice major, he minors in leadership, he’ll commission as a second lieutenant in US Air force. He is from Concord New Hampshire. Currently everyone in the Corps knows this, but for those of you that don’t, he is the Regimental Commander. He’s also president of the Criminal Justice Honors Society, and we’re very proud of him.
Next to him is Jacque Shiner. She is [an alumna] of our graduate program, and she is the founder and principal of OSA proposals, which is a proposal and pricing development firm located here in Vermont. She has more than 17 years of experience in federal government contracting where she’s has development pricing proposals and indirect rates.
She has a BS in finance from George Mason University. She is a 2017 graduate of NU’s Master of Public Administration in Policy Analysis and Analytics where she received the 2017 MPA Shooting Star Award.
Troy Deckman, next to Commissioner Kelly, is a computer security and information assurance major. He has a concentration in information assurance management, and he’s from Oakland Maryland. He is a member of Regimental Band here, the Computing and Information Honors Society, he plans to commission in the Air Force upon graduation, and he is a member of the class of 2019.
Finally, on the far left, Zyla Fisher is a criminal justice major from New Ipswich, New Hampshire, she’s conducted her own summer research under the guidance of professor Emily Meyer on violent offenders and restorative justice. That project it analyzed how journalists report domestic violent case, and she is a member of the class of 2018.
Let’s just get right to the program and each student has spent some time developing questions to cover a variety of subjects. One of the difficulties of having a speaker like Commissioner Kelly is his experience is so broad and the topics that we can cover could fill a series of Todd Lecture series. The students have prepared questions. Tim, why don’t you go ahead and start us off, and we’ll take it from there.
Good evening sir. Terrorists attacks are undoubtedly a very real threat to the United States and especially to New York City. Attacks can be as simple as the incident last week with the rented Home Depot truck to as complicated and orchestrated as September 11th. During your time as police commissioner, in what ways did the threat of terrorism evolve in New York City and how has the policing approach changed to combat terrorism?
I was police commissioner two times. The second time was I was asked by Mayor Bloomberg to come back as the police commissioner and it was three and half months after the horrific events of September 11th. I had been commissioner during the first of World Trade Center attack.
In many ways I think we dropped the ball that should have been a wakeup call for the country and it wasn’t and we had the horrific events of September 11th. We wanted to supplement what the federal government was doing. The city had been attacked twice, what can be done with the biggest police department in the country, where we had 54,000 employees.
Almost 40,000 uniform police officers, we knew we had diversity; we had a lot of talent in the ranks. We created a counter terrorism bureau and the first of its kind in the country. 9/11 attack was a very complex event with a lot of moving parts. We anticipated another attack, indeed the city did and the newspaper and media thought that we were going to be attacked again.
We put things in place; put them in quickly starting on January 1 of 2002. We brought in people from federal agencies, FBI, DEA, DIA. I wanted to have a, because of my background I thought that a Marine general, the persona of a Marine general would be very helpful in sort of quieting any push back there was from the rank-and-file because it was my intention to bring people and put them over police officers and a heavily unionized workforce.
Brought in Lieutenant General Frank Libutti who is just absolutely a terrific person, did a great Job. David Cohen was someone that I knew; he was the only person to the Director of Operations and the Director of Analysis in the CIA. He was there for 35 years he came on board. What followed was a lot of talented people from different agencies from academia to come in and set up a counter terrorism bureau.
We were sort of, we had our eye on more complex events. In fact, we really didn’t see them. If you look at the continuum of plots against New York City there were 16 plots and again if you look at what’s happening around the world the attacks have become simpler. In many ways more problematic because they’re easy to do.
You referred to the event last week. All you need is a car, a driver’s license to create mayhem. We’ve seen it in Barcelona, we saw it in Nice, we saw it in Berlin and Israel has been experiencing it for quite a while. The nature of the threat has changed and, as I say, simpler attacks are what we have to try to address.
In the meantime, the terrorist universe if you will have become much more sophisticated in carrying out their own operational security. They’re using encryption, telegram is one, WhatsApp is another one. It becomes much more difficult for FBI, NYPD and they’re joined together it’s a joint terrorism task force, to track these people down.
You asked the question about evolution, that is sort of what’s happened in law enforcement in general and in policing from the complex, which was addressed on the federal government in a variety of ways including the establishment of the National Counter Terrorism Center where you can coordinate all the agencies, or at least potentially getting information.
If go back to one of the causes of 9/11 in a lot of people’s minds was the fact that CIA had information about a meeting that took place in Malaysia. Two people had a US visa came back they were actually hijackers, the FBI never knew about them. It was a lack of coordination. That I think has largely been addressed.
But these relatively new phenomena where you have Omar Mateen in Orlando, who had an AR-15 rifle and had seven or eight magazine of 30 rounds. Killed 49 people, wounded 50 more. We’ve seen the terrible events in Las Vegas, not a terrorist attack but again you saw the capacity to do that with very much available weapons.
That is sort of the challenge that law enforcement sees. How do you identify an individual last week’s perpetrator, with great difficulty. What he did was he rented a van a week before the attack, brought that van into New York, saw if it could fit on the bike pass it was a very deliberate effort on his part. So far investigators have not identified anybody that he has spoken to and with any indication that they may have colluded in any ways.
It could be that this individual is a classic lone wolf. He radicalized himself on the internet; he has got on his iPhone hundreds of recruitment videos that he watched. In a strange kind of way the simplicity of it makes it a lot more difficult to address. That’s kind of where we’ve come from.
At Norwich University Residency week Jamus Collier from the New York City Emergency Management office shared some insight on big data used by the city. He said that daily slide deck alone could be 60 to 70 pages long. In addition to this information, police departments are collecting data from plate readers, tickets issued and security cameras just to name a few.
What are your concerns related to too much raw data and analysis paralysis or potential limitations to police officers in performing their work?
Well I think that is a legitimate issue and a legitimate question. We pride ourselves on big data, web brought in Palantir here, which some of you may know, is now a major gatherer of big data for a lot of government entities. They came in and worked for us for free, because quite frankly they wanted to use the notoriety, they wanted to use it as advertising.
But there’s a glut of information. A lot of information you don’t have time to look at it, the analysts don’t have time to look at it yet there’s this notion that more is better, and it’s just not something that’s viable. If you have a deck that has 60 or 70 slides whatever nobody is looking at that, you don’t have the time to look at it.
A real challenge is to find what is useful hone it down to digestible form. There’s an expression of not preventive policing but there’s another one that it says that you can tell where crime is going to happen, and you need a lot of data to do that. Well the reality is that crime generally happens where it happened before.
I’m a big supporter of technology, but you can almost have too much technology. You can use pin maps to tell you where the crimes were happening. There’s a lot of vendors out there that are selling this type of information. I think your point is, well the point from the gentleman from OEM, is too much information and not enough time to analyze it. I’m on board; I agree.
Good evening, sir. Terrorists groups such as ISIS continually use social media Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et cetera, to radicalize new recruits for their cause. Other than relying on the company to police the content of users how does law enforcement prevent extremist views from being published online without impeding free speech or invading privacy?
Well, law enforcement the way we’d like to do it is very difficult to do. I mean, obviously, that’s one of the things that federal government is trying to do: shut down these sites. If you look at them they’re very well done, and we were just talking about this earlier, many of them are about New York City. They see New York as sort of the capital of the world; they’ll show the two towers being attacked.
They’ll talk about New York also in the online magazines that they put out Inspire and ISIS has another one now. For instance, the last copy, the last issue, I believe, showed what to do with a truck, or a car attack. To answer your question it’s very difficult. They’re able to sort of republish these websites when they’re shut down very quickly. You would think it’s easy to do, but it’s not.
It’s a constant effort trying to do that. These recruitment films, as I say they mention New York, but they also focus on the abuses of Abu Ghraib. The prison where unfortunately we, the US, did some brutal acts in trying to get people to talk. That’s something that appears on the internet every day. It was a mistake, never should have been done, but it’s a mistake that we continue to relive. I wish there was a better answer, but they’re out there and there are literally hundreds of thousands of them that are very difficult to stop also.
Awesome. Thank you, sir.
Good evening, sir. Recently the media has covered many news stories about racialized police brutality. This topic has become extremely controversial and incidents such as the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, have resulted in destructive protests that went on for weeks.
How has policing changed as a results of this and how have police departments taken more preventative measures?
I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the first part of your question. I want you to repeat it. But I know you’re talking about the sort of animosity towards the police departments, and you mentioned Michael Brown. Well, let me talk a little bit about Ferguson because I think a lot of the problem initially was caused by the Ferguson Police Department, and I’ll tell you why.
One of the basic rules in law enforcement when you have a controversial event whatever it is, is to get out in front of that event tell people what you know, tell people what you don’t know. That never happened in Ferguson. So, rumors just took off immediately as to what happened.
The spokesperson de facto became Michael Brown’s companion. Michael Brown was shot and, unfortunately, died at the scene. This young man, his name was Johnson, was on CNN, telling his version of what happened. Ultimately proved to be a fabricate, totally fabricated. But it wasn’t known at the time. In addition, the police department left Michael Brown’s body in the street for four hours, which was just a terrible practice. His body should have taken up right away.
Forensic evidence is important but not that important. His body should have been taken to a hospital. You had this information vacuum, and you had this other young man who is on television telling a lie and distortion. What we know happened is result of investigation by the Justice Department, not just the local district attorney, but the US Justice department.
Michael Brown, the marijuana was found in testing of the body, so we don’t know if that played any role in his actions, but he strong armed a box of cigars from a store; we saw a film of that that happened before his encounter with Police Officer Wilson. He and his partner Mr. Johnson are walking in the middle of the street, the officer tells him to get on the sidewalk, and he sees the cigars box in his hand.
Michael Brown curses at the officers, and he goes over to the car. They have some words, he reaches into the car, and he grabs police officer’s shirt and his gun. How do we know that? We know that because in the investigation it says that Michael Brown’s DNA was both on the police officers collar and on his gun.
That story just took off and there was no way of sort of putting it back in the bottle. Nobody was putting out information. For some reason, the police department even though they received the video of the sort of strong arm going on, taking the cigars, they never put that out in any official capacity. They took it and gave it to reporters at a press conference, but they never talked about it. It’s just strange behavior.
It’s a classic example of not getting out in front of the story; look, police can make mistakes no questions about it. We’ve seen some horrific shootings that have taken place, and I would submit that those were clearly aberrations. Over 40 years in policing I think I can say that, but the information vacuum was filled by groups such as Black Lives Matter and went through several days of disturbances there.
Again an investigation was done by the Justice Department. Eric Holder was the Attorney General at the time, that investigation exonerated a police officer and found DNA information that I gave you. In other words, based on sort of a false narrative what can police departments do even though there was a certain amount of animosity?
I mentioned the shootings; you know, bad events. The shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago by a police officer was a murder; you can’t call it anything else. He fired 16 times, shot this young man on the ground, even though he did have a knife in his hand, he was walking away. The shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina by Police Officer Michael Slager, he shot him in the back, and he did it in a relatively casual manner. He didn’t know he was being filmed; a murder.
People, I mean we talked about this today in one of the classes, some people understandably can take from that this is suspicions confirmed. This is what happens all the time. “Hey, we’re just seeing it now because of the proliferation of cameras.” As I said, in my experience it’s certainly not the case. But I can understand how people would think that way.
Communication is the key, you have to communicate, you have to go to meetings, you have to be ready to respond to crisis, because of the nature of what police officers do. They are the bearers of bad news, they are authorized to use physical force, authorized to use deadly physical force, they give you traffic citations. Not everybody loves police.
If you’re a police administrator, you have to be aware of the fact that there is always going to be some tension. You work on it, you do what you can every day, every day is a new day, and it’s always a challenge. What I think concerns a lot of people now is the fact that, partially as a result of Ferguson and other situations, the police have backed off from proactive policing.
Proactive policing is the opposite, as you would understand, from reactive policing. We used to do that, in certainly in the ’80s. You waited for a call on a radio, and you went to that scene, and you took a report
I think early in the ’90s, although it’s always gone on to a certain extent, but early in the ’90s the police departments we were much more proactive, much more involved. Looking at suspicious activity they would intervene. We have a lot more information available in the ’90s and crime in this country come down significantly, violent crime from the ’90s on.
Now we see in the last two years an increase in murders, increase in crime of violence in some of the major cities in America. Violent crime is up in the US, but it’s up significantly in major cities throughout America. A lot of people, myself included, attribute that to police officers not being willing to engage.
Their position is, “my career is at stake, the wellbeing of my family is at stake. If I get involved and have an incident that doesn’t look good on video,” and now police officers are wearing video cameras, which I think is generally a good idea. That sort of where we’re now, the so called Ferguson Effect, where police are engaging less. The question is how do we get out of it? I’m not certain I know, because in places like Chicago they see themselves, police, as being attacked by the US Justice Department.
There was a report that was put together by the Justice Department under President Obama that there’s still people who are using that report to criticize them. I don’t think you will see in the short term police are going to go back to a proactive mode. Your question, how do we improve community relations? In my view, talk, talk, communicate, communicate, work at it every day, hopefully we’ll get back to a form of proactivity.
Whether it’s defense of the nation or in the private sector, many Norwich students go on to fill vital leadership positions around the world. As commissioner, you managed 20 bureaus and led a police force 54,000 strong, which is larger than most cities. Can you share your leadership principles and a valuable leadership lesson?
Well, leadership principles, I say that everything I learned about leadership I learned through the Marine Corps. It was a tremendous learning experience for me. I have an old guide book that talks about leadership traits, there’s 14 of them and the general proposition is if you sound like a leader if you look like a leader, if you act like a leader, you’re a leader. Leaders are made not born. It has a series of these traits.
But I think it was very helpful to me and I refer to it still these days. But as far as a leadership example, I think the best thing that I can talk about is Mayor Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg. Now a very wealthy man, he ran for mayor had never been in public office before. He started running before 9/11 and 9/11 happens, he’s still running. But the agenda, what he faced, grew exponentially.
You had this smoldering hole in lower Manhattan, 2,700 people killed, bodies still there still buried. You had a belief that crime would go up. Mayor Giuliani did a very good job as far as crime is concerned. There was a belief as I say that crime was going to go up. You had difficult community interaction, community relations, because Giuliani administration was not that strong too and there was a lot of animosity directed at the police in certain communities.
This is what faced Mike Bloomberg. He had been, you know, his company pretty small company made a lot of money but a small company. All of sudden he has 280,000 people, he has got all of these issues, how do you rebuild lower Manhattan, how do we keep crime low, how do we work with the communities. I think he did an amazing job.
He picked a lot of good people because of … He talked to the right people where they identified other folks working. He wasn’t constrained by the normal political needs. He wasn’t a product of a club house or he didn’t need anybody because he self-funded. He ultimately spent on his three elections a quarter of a billion dollars.
What that did was free him from the normal pressures that any elected official might face. If you look at what happened in New York City, crime was reduced to record lows. Mike Bloomberg, if people could have had him for a fourth terms, they would have. Our terrorism program, I think, worked. We had 16 plots against the city while Mayor Bloomberg was in office none of them came to fruition, a lot of good work on the part of law enforcement, both the FBI, NYPD and luck, and sheer luck.
We had a case, I was talking in one of the classes today, about an individual who drives into Times Square May 1st 2010, with a bomb. His vehicle all configured to be a bomb to blow up and it just smoldered. It smoldered because he had changed the formula that he was taught by the Taliban in Pakistan. He was arrested two days later trying to leave the country. He confessed it all, but we knew nothing about it. It wasn’t on anybody’s radar screen.
This is the type of thing that Mike Bloomberg handled and in my judgment handled very well. You could see him, I could see him grow in strength and confidence in working all the levers that had to be worked in a very complex city very complex environment. That’s my leadership example of that. Quite frankly, he gets credit, but I don’t think it’s enough credit because the city in many ways is stronger now than it’s ever been. And I attribute that to his leadership.
We’ve already discussed about the police force as finding themselves receiving negative feedback rather than positive. In today’s atmosphere, how do you keep public employees like first responders and others motivated and how do you continue to recruit the best and the brightest to public service?
I think people who go into law enforcement generally, obviously they’re there as a result of choices that they made. They like the work, they really love the work. Sometimes they don’t want to tell people they love it because hey, they’re not going to get enough money then. I think I kind of like that myself. I really love it, I never want to get out of the police corps, I tell it to many people.
You signed on, you’re committed, it’s vocation almost. I don’t think morale is, personally morale is a strange term, but really, it really has to do with your personal situation: do you have a parking spot that sort of thing. I think cops are not impacted very much by negative publicity.
I think what it does do is sort of insulate them, or isolate them probably is the better word, I don’t know people say hey that’s not good you should be interacting more the community at large. That’s probably true but police officers will tend to socialize with each other and that might limit their knowledge of the communities or whatever.
But I don’t think the negative publicity makes that much difference, except in the area of this pulling back. “Hey I’m going to react; I want to radio call before I go into that scene or into that right.” But when it’s an emergency situation they’ll go, they’re not holding back, it’s in the DNA in my view, the vast majority of people who go into that field.
Thank you so much.
Encryption is one method of ensuring that personal data on electronic devices is difficult to be sieved by militia sources. This encryption, however, can impede the ability of police to investigate evidence in a timely manner. How can a user’s data be protected while also aiding in investigations instead of impeding?
The encryption, is that the question?
Encryption is a real problem these days for investigators. We saw the Apple versus the FBI case as far as the San Bernardino shooting was concerned. I don’t think a private company should be able to take the position that we’re going to create encryption to the degree that nobody can get in it, we can’t get in it either. This isn’t out there in the world. I think this should not be tolerated, I think ultimately security trumps encryption– trumps privacy, I should say.
Congress should really take this up. They don’t want to, because they know that hey, people like their privacy. But at the end of the day, in my judgment, security has to prevail. Now the whole issue with that cell phone with the San Bernardino case it kind of just drifted out of sight. The FBI apparently hired an Israeli company that enabled them to open a phone and best I can tell there wasn’t too much there. But they wanted to do it.
But at the end of the day I think we need the capacity to get into encrypted information, there’s going to be some we certainly can’t do. But I think our policy should be that a company, a private company should not be allowed to create something that can be so detrimental to the wellbeing of the country. This country and other counties as well.
Thank you, sir.
Some police officers refer to themselves as “social workers” within their communities, meaning that they view their work as helping the public rather than just enforcing its law. Do you view your police work this way and how has policing evolved over time to become more focused in helping the community?
You’re going to have to repeat that for me. I’m sorry, I just didn’t hear it.
Some police officers refer to themselves as “social workers” within their communities, meaning that they view their work as helping the public rather than just enforcing its laws. Do you view your police work in this way and how has policing evolved over time to become more focused on helping the community?
I just can’t hear it, it’s a Vietnam thing, I can’t hear it.
Just hand him the question. She’s asking your view about law enforcement as a social worker rather than just enforcement. While we’re reviewing the questions, yeah go head and you can line up behind the mics on the left, so after this we’re going to go ahead and take you on the left you’re first in the queue.
I think social work if that’s what you want to call it is a part of being a police officer. I think it comes with the territory, I don’t think it’s an either or situation. I think people also equate social work with making the community happy and there’s more to pleasing than just having good relations with the community.
You’re obligated to make the community safe and to the extent that some police departments or some police leaders think that it’s very significant to have great relations with the community but not necessarily get involved in crime fighting, I think that’s a mistake.
There’s no correlation that I’ve seen between community relations, supposedly that people like police and crime reduction, although some people want you to think that. You need both, you need good community relations but you need programs that will reduce crime. Social work, yeah a little bit of it but don’t get your eye off the ball at least that would be my mantra to police executives.
Just because community might like you personally you still have to get your job done and trying to keep them safe.
Commissioner, we’re going to be taking a question from the student over here on your left. Please articulate your question clearly. Go ahead, please.
Good evening, sir. I was wondering, after veterans get back from their of tours of service, a lot of them choose to join police departments like yourselves in New York City, like my CO wants to do after he gets back. But after they come back, obviously, most of them aren’t the same people that they were before they left for their tour of service. I was wondering what was being done in police departments like yours–big ones and small ones across the country–to help veterans integrate themselves both into the police department and back in their lives at homes sir.
Well, first of all, you want to hire people who, to the best that we can determine, don’t have those problems because of their obligation to the public at large. Most major police department, certainly NYPD, have a pretty extensive background check and a series of tests that candidates go through to determine mental health.
Each one has an in-depth interview with the psychologists. I would … In my book I talk about the need to have probably a more sophisticated instrument to identify problems in individuals. Don’t forget you’re giving an awful lot of power to someone who becomes a police officer, a gun and a shield. That is government at 2 o’clock in the morning, that’s a lot of power. I think not just military people but just in general the profession should be doing a deeper dive in people who are coming on board.
A large educational institutional–Carnegie Mellon, some place like that—should, I think, examine the whole issue of selection and who should carry a gun who should have that awesome power. I think you’re talking about post-traumatic stress, I think. The department is very much aware of that, I was sued for not hiring somebody who had it, and it’s kind of gut wrenching situation.
He went over, he fought for all of us, he made all of the other tests but there was some indication of PTSD and I couldn’t in good conscience authorize his hiring. It’s a tough decision, but I think the decision has to go in benefit of the public at large.
Yes sir, thank you, sir.
Okay we’re over to our right. Go ahead, please.
Hello sir, my question is on the radical Islamist from Uzbekistan. What was your opinion on his attack in a recent event? Did New York law enforcement do anything to prevent or limit their being radicalized from internet or being radicalized themselves?
Say that again, being what?
On the internet?
No the Uzbek attacker just this recent week from New York. Did New York law enforcement do anything to prevent them being radicalized or any program being installed?
No it wasn’t … They were not aware of … The department was not aware of this individual at all. Again, there is the problem of trying to identifying these folks. He was from Uzbekistan. Some of the people he was hanging around with were. The question, of course, this is hindsight being 2020. But there was nothing done as far as this individual.
Now the department along with the federal authorities tried to shut down some these websites. But it’s a monumental task because there are so many of them and they’re very well done. He had over 100 of these videos on his cell phone and that’s how people are becoming radicalized.
Did he have anybody around him that helped talk him into it? So, far nobody has surfaced, could be. But he lived in three locations, he lived in Florida, Ohio and New Jersey and relatively short order, so investigators of course have gone back there.
They’ve also gone to Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has a generally friendly relationship with the US, we actually have a base there, a base that we use. But no, I think this is nightmare scenario for law enforcement. Not looking at this individual at all he takes the most, one of the most ubiquitous weapons available, a car and just mows down people. It could be done in Times Square, it could be done in some street in Queens. We saw how it’s been done throughout the rest of the world.
Now the interesting thing is in the Barcelona case and the other cases in Nice as well there was a group, sort of a support group, a sort of little Kabul, that has not appeared in this case and in other cases. Omar Mateen in Orlando we talked about him. What does that mean? I’m not certain. I think that NYPD, other big police departments, FBI are doing a very good job.
We haven’t had nearly the number of events that you might expect after 9/11, but it gets back to the adage that law enforcement has to be right every time, they only have to be right once. If we see another one in the near term it just, I think this is what’s going to happen. I think we’re going to see them; they have a different timeline than we do but unfortunately I think we can see another one of these in this country in the not too distant future.
Thank you, sir.
Over to your left sir.
Good evening, sir, Cadet Lynch Class 2019. So my question is, in your many years as commissioner, a job with such high responsibility, how do you face the criticism from the public, the media and even your own employee and officers that serve under you. How do you let it not affect your job negatively?
You get steel to that after a while. I mean the first time, and the internet allows everybody to have a voice now. But it doesn’t, you get immune to it, you accept it and there are certain things you just don’t read, you stay just off it. You don’t go look for, let’s put it that way. What I did is I had somebody else look for these things and if they thought that it had any merit then they’d bring it to me, but I wouldn’t go searching.
Because anybody who is in a relatively high public office these days is subjected to criticism. It’s easier now than ever before to criticize people on the internet. Professors are now rated anonymously by students, that sort of thing. The world has changed as a result of the internet and as you young people go forward I think you have to steel yourself to the fact that hey you’re going to be criticized. It’s a lot different than it was, say, 20 years ago.
But I got to the point where it just didn’t bother me. I read the paper then I go on not paying much attention it at all.
Okay we have a question here and maybe we’ll take one more and then that will be the evening so go ahead please.
Good evening, sir, I’m Cadet Tobias class of 2020. Cadet Deckman kind of touched on this in some very specific aspects earlier. But Benjamin Franklin once said that those who desire to give up freedom for a temporary security will neither receive nor deserve either. What does that mean to you as an enforcer of the law and how do you practice those beliefs as the commissioner?
Yeah, I see myself I’m a lawyer. I’d see myself as a civil libertarian quite frankly. Very conscious of law, conscious of constitutional principles and requirements. What we did I did was to bring in a cadre of top flight attorneys. Former assistant US attorneys, people from the corporation counsel’s office. They vetted and went through everything our intelligence division did. That’s where the potential for abuse lay.
We scrub their reports very closely. Before we did operations we would run it by the attorneys and talk about it. This is what we’re going to do, what do you think of it. Most people didn’t realize that we were doing that but we have litigation. New York is the most litigious environment in the world; we were sued all the time.
Then we would put this information out, it was like never mind. But we’re very conscious of that, you have to be in a city like New York. I don’t think we were giving up any right, okay. We certainly … Not though our investigation or our programs. I think it’s very important. I would agree with that statement from Franklin.
I think we did what we had to do to protect the civil liberties of people that we came in contact with.
Thank you very much, sir.
You have the privilege of having the last question of the evening, so we wait in anticipation. Go ahead.
Good evening, sir, my name is Mathew Blaise. We spoke earlier at lunch about a wide range of topics. But one topic was using proactive policing and how it’s declined over the years. Now my question is more pertaining to funding for it, where we see that community-oriented policing on departments are being compensated to use it.
As it’s a great a program it’s not really applicable to departments as big as yours. Do you think it’s possible to have a compensation program for proactive policing, to be able to establish law enforcement officers to want to be more proactive and see crime being declined using proactive policing instead?
To compensate for it?
Yes, sir, like departments would get funding if they’re using proactive policing. I know a lot of local departments use that. They’ve get compensation they’ll get funding, they’ll get technology if they’re implementing community oriented policing which is used to get more involved with community.
Yeah, I don’t … I think it’s hard to measure what departments do. In that regard are you saying that a department would say get involved with community policing or something along those lines or more enforcement that they receive more money from the federal government? Something along those lines?
More of, do you think that a compensation program be involved to give towards the bigger cities to show them that they should be doing proactive policing to try to bring it back instead of just letting them–
I see what you mean. I think it’s difficult to do because police will still see their career at risk if they engage in some of the things that have been criticized. The stop-question-and-frisk, something that we had an issue with in New York City no question about it. It’s a valuable tool; it should be in every police officers toolbox.
It has been validated by Supreme Court decision, it’s codified in virtually every state in the union. Yet there’s a lot of controversy over a lot of compliance. I mean I don’t think … Police officers backed off from that generally speaking, certainly in Chicago and other places. I don’t think money is going to get them to move in that direction.
Unions, major unions wouldn’t support that they’re out to protect their membership and if they see it as a way of sort of putting their memberships at risk for a few dollars, they wouldn’t support it. Getting police to do proactive policing, I think it’s a worthy goal. I don’t know how to do it right now, we’re in a period here where we’re going to be stuck for a while with police officers being less aggressive. I don’t mean aggressive as a pejorative term, but less aggressive in doing their job.
I think proactive policing played a major role in the reduction of crime since the ’90s. Smarter policing, more information but pro activity. In certain locations, not all over the country in the busier places that’s what we’re saying, that’s why you see that increase in violence, I don’t think you can turn it around very quickly, we’ll see.
Let’s give the commissioner and our students a round of applause.
I’d just like to say, sir, we appreciate your insight, your experience, your leadership, and your example and thank you for sharing that with us here physically at Norwich. I know there are many of you that wanted to ask the commissioner questions and I know that there are many of you that also want to speak to the commissioner.
However, I would ask that you would be kind and let him get to the Milano Ballroom and you can take questions and you can meet and greet with him there. This completes our first Todd Lecture series, thank you so much for being here, thank you for your question and for making it a success, have a good evening and safe travel.
I just want to thank you, I had a most enjoyable day today. The campus is beautiful, but the best thing about it was the quality of the cadets and the corps. You have a lot to be proud of. As I said before, you folks are on a missions and you go to other college campuses that’s not the case. There’s a lot of confusion. You know what you want to do and you’re well on your way. Congratulations, and thank you so much for having me.
You’re welcome, thank you sir.