And, for that matter, the most popular NYPD commissioner in the City’s history (since we started recording this kind of stuff, of course).
In yet another Quinnipiac poll, Mr. Kelly’s job as top cop was applauded by 75 percent of New Yorkers. These numbers split a bit by ethnicity: whites have his back with 81 percent; Hispanics, 76 percent; and African-Americans, 63 percent. And, overall, his Boys in Blue have a solid 70 percent approval rating.
Now, this comfortable success can be traced to a few things. For one, crime is at an all-time low, even if it’s experiencing a bump up right now. Second, along with Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo’s performances, the NYPD’s efforts during Hurricane Sandy were highly acclaimed by New Yorkers. And, third, according to the poll release, the Newtown massacre’s aftershock might have something to do with it.
But, at the same time, these numbers parallel a few other things that are not so popular about the instructors of law and order.
On the ground, we learned a while ago from the Voice’s Graham Rayman’s series “The NYPD Tapes” that an overuse of stop-and-frisk is encouraged to meet quotas – an encouragement that goes all the way up the hierarchal ladder of the police agency. And Ray Kelly is the practice’s pioneer and biggest defender.
As we said two weeks ago, 2012 was the Year of Stop & Frisk. And so was 2011, 2010, 2009 and so on… leading all the way back to the early days of the Bloomberg administration. For background, the use of the practice has skyrocketed by 600 percent over the past ten years or so. As of last November, a pretty good amount of New Yorkers (53 percent or so) are not down with it.
Also, add to the mix the NYPD Muslim surveillance program. You know, when cops followed members of Muslim student associations all the way back to Yale and Harvard’s whitewater rafting trips? Yeah, that happened.
With these numbers behind him, the commish might be around for a while. When asked about keeping him around, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said we would be “lucky” to at a forum in Harlem. She was booed by the crowd immediately after.
We’ll leave you with a quote from Mr. Bloomberg on what his high approval ratings really mean: “Then I wasted my last years in office. [It] means you’re skiing the baby slope, for goodness’ sakes. Go to a steeper slope.”