Irish American New York Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, has become the leader on the front line of the fight against terror in America.
The latest arrest of a suspected mass bomber was down to great detective work by the NYPD, the force Kelly so proudly heads.
When asked once about why he stayed in the job when he could be earning millions in the private sector he said “I’m Irish. There are some things that are more important to me than money.”
Ray Kelly is quite the heroic Irish American.
Described as a former marine who likes a challenge, Ray Kelly is the only person in history to serve as Police Commissioner of New York in two separate terms.
Born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, his father was a milkman while his mother was a coat check girl in Macy’s. The youngest of five, four brothers and one sister, Kelly followed his three brothers into the Marine Corps. His roots are in Roscommon.
In a long tradition of Irish young men, Kelly joined the police force as a rookie in 1963. That same year at the age of 23 he found himself in Vietnam on combat duty.
On his return he joined the ranks as a rookie police officer and within 31 years became Police Commissioner.
His first term as Police Commissioner was under Mayor Dinkins (1992 – 1994). One of Kelly’s main goals was to lower the rate of homicide in New York. The figures went from 2,245 in 1992 to 549 by 2005. This was the lowest tally since the mid-1960s.
It was in the dark days after 9/11 that Mayor Bloomberg asked Kelly to return to his position. In the new reality of the world Kelly managed to reduce crime in the city by 20 percent.
Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice said “Less than four months after the 9/11 attacks he basically created a whole new police department at the front line in the defense against terrorism.”
Kelly even has 20 NYPD officers placed around the world to be the ears and eyes of New York City. An hour after the bombings on the underground trains in London, in 2005, these police officers were relaying information to Kelly about the possible threats to New York.
“We are doing everything that a municipality can do to prevent another attack,” said Kelly. “We have devoted thousands of police officers to protecting our city from terrorism. At the same time we haven’t taken our eye off the crime fight ball.”
New York Irish American attorney Eddie Hayes said, “It’s very rare to find a man with his mental capacity as well as his physical and mental toughness. He’s a very good example for the warrior intellect, and we’re fortunate to have his as our general.”
The Irish pub that became home base for 9/11 ground zero rescuers