Former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly commented on local law enforcement strategies and civil liberties groups during a roundtable discussion as part of the Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Lecture Series Monday morning.
"This is a little different than a New York press conference," joked Kelly, who in his tenure with the NYPD faced controversies regarding the department's "stop-and-frisk" policy and clashes with the New York Civil Liberties Union over transparency.
Kelly applauded the Sarasota Police Department's focus on community-based policing, showcased by a recent barbecue in Newtown and "Coffee with a Cop," in which officers chatted with residents at Word of Mouth.
"Working with the community is absolutely essential if you're going to reduce crime," Kelly said. "It sounds to me like (Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino) is doing absolutely the right thing."
And Kelly said when a city deals with a particularly active civil liberties group, such as the ACLU in the city of Sarasota, officers need a clear directive from a city manager on how to enforce an ordinance and be prepared to "take them on" in court.
"I used to get sued every day," Kelly said.