Soon-To-Be-Ex-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly Will Join the Council on Foreign Relations


We all wondered how Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would spend his time after January 1, when new mayor Bill de Blasio is sworn in, and Kelly’s replacement, Bill Bratton, takes his spot. Golfing with Michael Bloomberg in Bermuda? Freelance stop-and-frisking? In a New York magazine profile published earlier this month, the commissioner waxed mysterious, telling the magazine: “I mean, I’m going to remain active and employed, and I can’t go into much more because lawyers have advised me not to talk about it, conflict of interest, that sort of thing. But this has been a great job. I couldn’t stay, anyway, I understand that. But people had told me, ‘Well, you’ll know when it’s time to go.’ Well, it’s time to go.”

And now we know what that means: this morning, the Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank with a focus on global politics, announced that Kelly will join them as a “distinguished visiting fellow.” The CFR says Kelly will begin work with the organization in early January at its New York HQ, where he’ll focus on “counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and other national security issues.”

CFR president Richard N. Haass is quoted as saying, “Ray Kelly spearheaded the modernization of the New York Police Department. The result is that crime is down and the NYPD’s counterterrorism capabilities are second to none. We are excited and proud to have his experience, expertise, and judgment at the Council.”

The CFR has always been an interesting mix of politicians and big-deal businesspeople; the board members right now include former Clinton and Bush II officials (both Colin Powell and Madeline Albright are board members), executives from financial institutions like Morgan Stanley and the Blackstone group, and prominent media figures, including Tom Brokaw and Fareed Zakaria.

The think tank has always been very, very kind to Kelly; in a 2009 forum on the post 9/11 NYPD, board member James D. Zirin called him a “visionary”, credited him with reducing violent crime, and declared, “No police commissioner in our history has been as qualified as Ray Kelly at the time he took office.” The same year, an “expert brief” put out by the CFR called the NYPD a “counterterrorism model,” adding, “The counterterrorism program the NYPD developed gave new meaning to the phrase, ‘think globally, act locally.’ It has become the most global of local police forces.”

Kelly and the NYPD have yet to comment publicly on his new appointment.

The full press release from the Council on Foreign Relations is reprinted on the following page.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly to Join CFR as Distinguished Visiting Fellow
December 23, 2013

Raymond W. Kelly, commissioner for the New York Police Department (NYPD), will join the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as a distinguished visiting fellow. Kelly will be joining CFR in early January and will be based at the organization’s headquarters in New York. He will focus on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and other national security issues.

“Ray Kelly spearheaded the modernization of the New York Police Department. The result is that crime is down and the NYPD’s counterterrorism capabilities are second to none. We are excited and proud to have his experience, expertise, and judgment at the Council,” said CFR President Richard N. Haass.

As the first and only police commissioner to serve under New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, from 2002 to 2014, Kelly presided over the country’s largest municipal police force, seeing violent crime decrease from 2001 levels by 40 percent. He created the first counterterrorism bureau of any municipal police department in the country, as well as a global intelligence program that operates in eleven foreign cities.

Kelly will leave the NYPD as the longest-serving police commissioner in the city’s history. He also served as New York City police commissioner from 1992 to 1994, under then mayor David N. Dinkins, and is the first person to serve in two nonconsecutive mayoral administrations. Kelly served in twenty-five different commands before being named commissioner, spanning a forty-three-year career with the NYPD.

Previously, Kelly served as senior managing director of global corporate security at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. from 2000 to 2001. From 1998 to 2001, he was commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service. He also served as undersecretary for enforcement at the U.S. Treasury Department, the third-highest ranking position in Treasury at the time. From 1996 to 2001, Kelly was vice president on the board of the international police organization Interpol.

In 1995, President Clinton appointed Kelly director of the State Department’s International Police Monitors mission, tasked to restore order in Haiti following the return of then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Kelly received his undergraduate degree from Manhattan College. He is also a lawyer and holds a law degree from St. John’s University School of Law and a masters of laws from New York University School of Law. Kelly also holds a masters of public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Kelly served in the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserve for thirty years and is a combat veteran of Vietnam. He retired with the rank of colonel.