signup now
Playboy Interview: Ray Kelly
  • November 15, 2013 : 01:11
  • comments

PLAYBOY: Stressful.

KELLY: Yes, and obviously I was in active combat.

PLAYBOY: When you saw some of your fellow marines killed, how did it affect you?

KELLY: It was not as traumatic or as jolting as I thought it would be. It was almost like “that’s what’s supposed to happen here.” I think certain life experiences sort of toughen you up.

PLAYBOY: Or crush you.

KELLY: Or crush you, yes. Or make you stronger. Virtually everything I learned about leadership traits and core values, I learned in the Marine Corps. To this day, I keep a list of the traits in a little black book, 14 of them, including integrity, justice, bearing, enthusiasm, endurance—all indicators you aspire to when you’re a leader.

PLAYBOY: As a dad, what was the most challenging thing you faced?

KELLY: I remember my son Greg had pneumonia when he was just four. I still have a clear picture of him in the hospital. It was around the time my mother passed away suddenly from a stroke. It was the first death in the family and very traumatic. It all seemed to come down on us. I remember feeling quite burdened at that time.

PLAYBOY: She never lived to see you become police commissioner. Would you say it’s only with the death of a parent that you feel completely——

KELLY: Alone?

PLAYBOY: Is that what it is? Some say that when you have a mother or a father to talk to, you’re always their child. But without them, you’re fully grown up.

KELLY: You’re always trying to impress your parents regardless of how old you are. And when they’re gone, there’s nobody to impress. But I think they’d be proud. My father has been gone for 30 years, and by the time he passed away, I was a lawyer. I hope he would be impressed.

PLAYBOY: With all your accomplishments, and with a new mayor about to be inaugurated, what are you going to do next?

KELLY: Well, I’ve told a lot of people I want to be a greeter at Walmart.

PLAYBOY: What are your qualifications?

KELLY: [Laughs] I like people.

PLAYBOY: You could retire.

KELLY: Oh no, I’m too active for that. I don’t ever see myself retiring. Not now, certainly.

PLAYBOY: But after 12 years, don’t you feel depleted?

KELLY: No. I feel absolutely energized, not tired at all. I haven’t had a vacation in 12 years. I can lift as much weight as I lifted 20 years ago. I don’t feel the pressure.

PLAYBOY: With all that energy, could you see yourself accepting an appointment as police commissioner again in January?

KELLY: I would find it unlikely.

PLAYBOY: You’ve had enough?

KELLY: I wouldn’t put it that way. I’ve been the longest-serving police commissioner in the history of the department, but it’s time in my life to move on. I’m ready for new adventures, new challenges.

PLAYBOY: Like climbing a mountain or competing on Dancing With the Stars?

KELLY: [Laughs] Yeah, that kind of stuff.

PLAYBOY: How about becoming homeland security secretary?

KELLY: [Laughs] Would I have to move?

PLAYBOY: Maybe. Hours after homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano announced her resignation, Senator Charles Schumer was pushing for you to replace her. Obama said you are “very well qualified.” Do you want that job?

KELLY: I’m obviously flattered by what the president and Senator Schumer said. I appreciate that.

PLAYBOY: Are you more or less optimistic, cynical, philosophical or just more tired?

KELLY: No, I’m not tired. And I think I’m generally optimistic.

PLAYBOY: What’s your view on mortality?

KELLY: It’s going to happen.

PLAYBOY: You don’t think about it much?

KELLY: No. I don’t at all. It’s true that some people really dwell on it. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing to think about it, but I really don’t.

PLAYBOY: So what drives you?

KELLY: Well, I think it’s been this job. Being in this administration, we have a lot of things to be proud of. I think it’s fair to say the police department has saved a lot of lives. That’s been our overarching goal.

PLAYBOY: As your 12 years as commissioner come to an end, you really have no regrets?

KELLY: Not really. I probably should think about it, but I really haven’t. I try to sit back and make a determination of what is the right thing to do—not the easiest or most convenient thing.

PLAYBOY: Once you make up your mind, you stick with it.

KELLY: Yes, I do.

PLAYBOY: Even if you get criticized.

KELLY: Oh yes. And in this job you get criticized for virtually everything you do or don’t do.

PLAYBOY: Do you worry the controversy about stop-and-frisk might mar your legacy?

KELLY: No, I never think of the word legacy. It doesn’t mean anything. You do the right thing, in my judgment, and things will work out. That’s what drives me. I’m not looking for legacy or history books or whatever. I know what we’ve done here has saved a significant number of lives. The burden is not on me. It’s on the politicians who made the decisions to limit what we’re doing. They’re the ones who are going to pay a price, in my judgment, if crime significantly increases.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
read more: News, politics, interview, playboy interview, issue december 2013


  • Bangdu Udoka
    Bangdu Udoka
    A few observations:1. "A Quinnipiac University poll taken last spring found that more than 80percent of New Yorkers want more cameras in public areas," so let's throw out the(admittedly-flawed) constitution because a number of people value the illusionof security over human rights? 2. “…I could take you right now to 125th Street in Harlem and young men will stop me for my picture and give me a very favorable and friendly greeting. They understand that we’re saving lives in their community, that they’re the ones at risk.” What is the percentage of young male Harlemites Kelly is referring to here? Does he have another Quinnipiac poll to site? Many young men traveling through Times Square stop to have pictures taken with police horses too.3. "Those AP writers received a lot of leaks from disgruntled people in the NYPD who had retired or didn’t get promoted," so none of these "disgruntled people" were dedicated and/or superb employees who voiced legitimate concerns about police protocol usurping worship services?4. “(Regarding Nelson Mandela) I was intrigued by someone who had spent 27 years in jail, then came back to lead a country. And with all that adversity, he was not bitter.” Interesting that Kelly was more “intrigued” by the intestinal fortitude ofNelson Mandela during an unjust imprisonment than by his stellar record as afreedom fighter. It’s akin to praising Armando Galarraga for his forgiving demeanor after an umpire stole his perfectly pitched game instead of praising his retirement of twenty-eight straight batters.
  • Tim
    Hats off to Ray Kelly for doing an excellent job! You can't argue with success like his or the statistics he gives in his interview. The old saying goes "you've got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette." If I were a minority living in New York City I may not like being stopped for no reason, but if it were for my greater good, I would learn to love it!