Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly isn’t buying the “happy talk” about New York City’s post-pandemic future.
Speaking on Sunday on WABC Radio’s “The Cats Roundtable,” the former two-time NYPD boss said the city’s recovery is still a work in progress.
“You see all of these small stores and businesses that still remain closed. Many of them you know will never reopen. I hope New York comes back and comes back soon,” Kelly told host John Catsimatidis. “I don’t see the indicators of that. There’s a lot of happy talk that says it’s coming back, but I think we have a long way to go.”
Kelly pointed to subway safety as a key deterrent to getting the city back in swing. The subways saw 2.19 felonies per million riders in August, according to NYPD and MTA data, significantly more than the 1.47 per million rider crime rate for all of 2019.
“People are still very concerned about riding in the subways. Bad things can happen to you on the subway,” Kelly said. “So, what are [people] doing? They’re staying above ground. They’re taking cars if they can. And they’re working from home.”
He also called on the next mayor to “create a corps of professionals” to help the city’s homeless population.
“Most of them have mental problems. These have to be addressed head-on,” Kelly said of vagrants. “I think you do it with more professional personnel who can talk to them, interview them and refer them [to treatment] if need be.”
Kelly, who served as NYPD commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins from 1992 to 1994 and Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2002 to 2013, also remembered watching the Twin Towers come down from his office at Bear Sterns in Midtown on 9/11.
He bemoaned President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, which he said he believed had made Americans less safe.
“We could’ve had a small cadre there and provide some stability to that country. Now we don’t know. We are rolling the dice,” Kelly said. “We’ve become more of a target as a result of terrorists and radical Islamists who are taking over Afghanistan.”