With Top Fed Job Opening, Some Push Ray Kelly

NEW YORK -

With U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano retiring, a senator close to the administration recommended that New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly replace her in the high profile but demanding job.

Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, says Napolitano has done a great job in an important post and Kelly would be an excellent replacement.

“The Department of Homeland Security is one of the most important agencies in the federal government,” Schumer said in a statement Friday. “It’s leader needs to be someone who knows law enforcement, understands anti-terrorism efforts, and is a top-notch administrator, and at the NYPD, Ray Kelly has proven that he excels in all three.”

Schumer said that he was in touch with the White House about his suggestion.

The police commissioner previously led U.S. Customs and Border patrol under President Bill Clinton. On Friday he praised Napolitano’s record but did not comment on his future. He has repeatedly said he is focusing on his current job.

“Secretary Napolitano never lost sight of the fact that New York City was on the top of the terrorist target list and acted accordingly in funding important initiatives, including Securing the Cities,” Kelly, who has led the nation’s largest police force since 2002, said in a statement.

Rep Peter King (R-N.Y.) says the exceptional job Kelly has done to keep New York City safe makes him a logical choice to replicate that on a national scale.

“The only reason we haven’t been successfully attacked is because of the great job Ray Kelly has done here in New York,” the Long Island congressman, who chairs the House Homeland Security committee, said.

A note of caution may be the ghost of Bernard Kerik, who was widely praised for his leadership of the NYPD during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. That led President George W. Bush to nominate him to lead the fledgling Department of Homeland Security — a decision which backfired when tax evasions and other crimes came to light.

Kerik completed his three-year prison sentence two months ago.