New York City remains a prime target for terrorists nearly 10 years after the attack on the World Trade Center, but the New York Police Department is constantly refining its efforts against terrorism and has thwarted a dozen plots against the city since Sept. 11, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reports. With increased terrorist activity abroad, especially in Europe, Kelly said he was concerned that the U.S. government was giving easy access to “people who seek to do us harm.” He cited ways he said terrorists could slip into America undetected: A visa waiver program allows travelers from 36 countries to come here without ever appearing at an American embassy or consulate; U.S. borders remain unsecured in many areas; and the government is so clogged with requests from political asylum-seekers that it gives a pass to potential terrorists.
Kelly, 69, has been commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg since 2002. He spoke to an elite audience of donors to the nonprofit Police Foundation, which raises $100 million a year to support the city's police. Using slides and charts, Kelly ran through statistics that mostly showed crime in New York on the decline, even though the department has 6,000 fewer officers than it did in 2001. The city experienced an increase in several categories of violent crime last year, including homicides, which were up 13 percent. Still, New York, with 532 homicides, had the lowest rate among the nation's large urban areas (about six for every 100,000 residents). Kelly defended his department against claims from civil liberties groups who say the department manipulates crime statistics to paint a rosier picture of the city. Kelly said crimes were “occasionally” misclassified but that mostly the reporting was accurate.