Guest editorial…Racial profiling disqualifies Kelly

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New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is being talked about as the next person to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The current head, Janet Napolitano, is resigning to take a job as president of the University of California.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer and others have recommended Kelly to replace Napolitano. President Barack Obama said in a recent television interview that Kelly is well qualified for the job.

Obama would be making a major mistake if he nominated Kelly to be Homeland Security secretary.

The president should not offer the cabinet position to Kelly, who has led a police department with an aggressive and controversial stop-and-frisk policing of mostly African American and Hispanic men in New York City.

The American Civil Liberties Union did a study that showed that the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy has led to the unconstitutional racial profiling of hundreds of Black and Hispanic men. A federal judge is now considering whether the NYPD’s stop and frisk policies is constructional.

Paul Butler, law professor of Georgetown University and former United States Department of Justice prosecutor, is right when he says Kelly’s stop and frisk policies should disqualify him.

“Commissioner Kelly is the poster child for the most racially insensitive police practices in the United States, stop and frisk,” said Butler in an article last month on the New York Times website. “During his term in office, the number of times, police stop people on the street for questioning increased from about 100,000 in 2002, to almost 700,000 in 2011. Close to 90 percent of the people subject to these offensive detentions and searches have been Black or Latino, and fewer than 2 percent of the stops have led to the recovery of guns. The vast majority of those stopped have been innocent of any crime.”

Not only are the policies Kelly has implemented under fire for being racially discriminatory, they are also counterproductive because it alienates the police from law abiding citizens in the African and Hispanic community.

After the verdict in the George Zimmerman case Obama suggested states consider antiracial profiling similar to legislation he helped pass as an Illinois state senator.

Kelly has also been accused of alienating potential Muslim allies. Diala Shamas of Clear Project told the New York Times that Kelly’s widespread surveillance program has scared Muslims to the point where they say they are worried about asking officers for directions.

The president would be sending the wrong message on racial profiling if he nominated Kelly to lead Homeland Security.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)

 

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