Citing the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk practice, minority law enforcement groups have come out against Police Commissioner Ray Kelly being chosen to run the Department of Homeland Security.
"DHS Secretary would have to be somebody who has a balance of both law enforcement and protecting people's civil rights," said Anthony Miranda, head of the National Latino Officers Association.
The association, along with two black law enforcement groups, held a rally against appointing Kelly to the position Sunday, saying he is unqualified despite running the nation's largest police force for two administrations.
The groups stressed the police department's use of stop-and-frisk under Kelly, which critics say disproportionately targets blacks and Latinos.
"I can only see him nationalizing what is a New York City problem," Miranda said.
Charles Billups, the president of the Grand Council of Guardians, which represents some 15,000 black law enforcement officers in the state, worried a Kelly appointment would only increase the use of stop-and-frisk in the city.
"It would get more aggressive," said Billups, a retired police officer who said he has been stopped-and-frisked numerous times.
Despite their misgivings, Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference said that stop-and-frisk doesn't have much to do with a Kelly appointment to DHS.
"Racial profiling is happening all over in urban areas. I would hope that he would not take this to a national level," Dukes said.
The law enforcement groups spoke out days after President Barack Obama praised Kelly, indicating he would consider assigning him to the job.
"Ray Kelly's obviously done an extraordinary job in New York and the federal government partners a lot with New York," Obama told Univision's New York affiliate last week.
In response to Obama's statements, the three groups intend to send him a letter outlining their concerns about Kelly, said Noel Leader, the co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. Though crime has dropped under Kelly's tenure, Leader doesn't think that should be Obama's only consideration.
"When you make any appointment, you have to balance everything out," Leader said, noting several civil rights lawsuits against the police department.
Former city comptroller and mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson echoed this sentiment in a statement Monday.
"Protecting the safety of our people is the paramount responsibility of government, but it must not—and need not—come at the expense of anyone’s constitutional rights," said Thompson, who is the only black Democratic candidate for mayor.
Miranda, a retired police sergeant, recalled several times being stopped by police who he said are forced to meet "quotas."
"Generating numbers is not a viable solution on a national basis to prevent crime or terrorism," Miranda said.
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