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Raymond Kelly

Hoan Ton-That interviews Raymond Kelly, Former NYPD Commissioner


By Hoan Ton-That INTERVIEWS

Hoan Ton-That and Raymond Kelly

Your public safety career has really seemed to follow the arc of modern technology development in policing. What inspired you to build the world’s first Real Time Crime Center in 2005?

When I became NYC police commissioner for the 2nd time, it was apparent that the NYPD was a classic example of an organization that didn’t know what it knew. We had fragmented data sources, many of them in paper files and in general, information was quite difficult to obtain in a timely manner. I wanted to create a ‘one stop shopping model’ for detective investigators so they could hit the ground running when they started their cases. Basic data, such as the identity of a murder victim, methodology, and criminal records were initially provided at the Real Time Crime Center and more detailed data was added as we improved the system. I believe there is no question that the RTCC has greatly facilitated the solving of crime and has saved lives.


Following that same fusion center model, how would Clearview AI’s centralized database of over 20 billion open source records and facial recognition technology further support the public safety domain?

An important element in conducting an investigation is often determining who someone’s associates and companions are. The unique capabilities of the Clearview AI database to not only identify individuals but associates is of great value in serious crime investigations and missing person cases.


As you know, gun violence is currently adversely impacting just about every major city across this country and yet, in some of these cities, there are local laws or ordinances prohibiting the use of any kind of facial recognition. As a public safety leader who has championed technological advancements as essential elements for modern day policing and has driven crime rates to all time lows throughout your tenure, let me ask you this: How would the use of data and facial recognition technology immediately help communities reduce gun violence and other serious crimes?

More and more cities are using video cameras in public places. Clearview AI’s capability, coupled with the ever increasing number of video cameras is the perfect combination for helping investigators identify and help apprehend shooters. It makes no sense for the local government to stand in the way of world class technology which will definitely save lives.


Can you talk through some of the considerations you as Police Commissioner worked through when you brought on new technologies that may have been deemed controversial by the general public?

Because NYC is a very litigious society, we always had to be sensitive to new tactics or techniques that we were introducing. When we were about to install hundreds of cameras in the lower Manhattan security initiative we contacted the lead attorneys in what was called ‘The Privacy Bar’ and negotiated an agreement wherein we would only keep videos on file for thirty days and then destroy them unles