New York City’s top cop is waging a war of words with his predecessor over the city’s crime statistics.
The day before, NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said of Ray Kelly, the former commissioner: “Shame on him.”
That was in response to Kelly asserting that Bratton’s department was manipulating its crime reporting to make New York seem safer than reality.
Bratton continued to smash Kelly during a Wednesday interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Among other things, Bratton suggested that Kelly was distorting the facts to sell copies of his new memoir, “Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City.”
“The first casualty of politics is usually the truth,” Bratton said. “Mr. Kelly is selling a book. The New York Post is reporting he is thinking about running for mayor. I am standing by my crime statistics because they are factual. They are the truth. Everything he said yesterday in his statement, we have refuted, we have rebutted.”
The fight between the two veteran police commissioners was apparently escalated by a radio interview earlier this month in which Kelly said there were “some issues” with New York’s crime stats, which included “some redefinition going on as to what amounts to a shooting.”
“All administrations want to show that crime is down, but you have to take a hard look at those numbers. And I can tell you: People don’t feel safer in this city,” Kelly said then.
According to The New York Times, Kelly elaborated on his point Tuesday: “He said people suffering graze wounds — as well as those injured by flying glass caused by gunfire — were not always recorded as shooting victims; likewise, wounds suffered by an uncooperative victim were now being labelled self-inflicted.”
During his “Morning Joe” interview, Bratton challenged Kelly to “man up” and name the source of his crime-stat claims.
“The medical examiner of the City of New York is happy to take him on relative to his allegation that she’s cooking the books relative to murders,” Bratton said. “Everything that Mr. Kelly alleged — we have changed nothing since the time he was police commissioner.”
The Bratton-Kelly conflict has additional layers because of their differing approaches to policing philosophy.
Kelly served for 12 years under Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor who embraced the contentious stop-and-frisk policy. Bratton, first hired as police commissioner by Rudy Giuliani, was appointed to the position again by current Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) to curb stop-and-frisks and improve the relationship between the NYPD and the local African-American and Latino communities.
On Tuesday night, the NYPD also released a five-part statement responding to Kelly and touting the city’s low crime numbers. “There has been no change in the way shooting incidents are calculated,” the statement said.
“He was there. He is no longer there,” Bratton added on MSNBC. “He was the police commissioner. I am the police commissioner. I know what we are doing.”
And Bratton stressed that New York was still the “safest large city in America” and would soon report its best crime numbers since the 1960s.
“I stand before the media of New York — the toughest media in the world — and we talk about our crime statistics every month,” Bratton said. “In his 12 years, that never happened.”
View Bratton’s full ‘Morning Joe’ interview below:
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