Hakeem Jeffries: Ray Kelly Would Be 'Poor Choice' To Lead Department Of Homeland Security

07/17/2013 11:23 pm ET

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly would be a "poor choice" to head up the Department of Homeland Security, criticizing Kelly for his role in the city's stop-and-frisk policy and other surveillance programs.

President Barack Obama, in a Tuesday interview with a New York Univision affiliate, said he believed Kelly was "well-qualified" for the post, which Janet Napolitano vacated last week to lead the University of California system. While Obama stopped short of confirming he is considering Kelly for the Homeland Security position, he had high praise for the police commissioner.

“I think Ray Kelly is one of the best there is, so he’s been an outstanding leader in New York,” Obama said.

During a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes," Jeffries countered Obama's assessment, pointing to Kelly's role overseeing the New York Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk program, as well as its surveillance of Muslim New York residents.

"He's been a good administrator, and perhaps I could even support his potential appointment to this position in the absence of the massive aggressive stop-and-frisk program that he's run, and the unconstitutional Muslim surveillance program, but that's kind of like saying, I had a good year, if you don't count the winter, spring, and fall," Jeffries said.

Under Kelly and Bloomberg, the stop-and-frisk program has grown vastly, with over 5 million searches conducted during the current mayoral administration. Jeffries has been a vocal critic of the program, previously calling the searches a "an abuse of power."

According to police department data, 87 percent of individuals stopped and searched in 2011 and 2012 were black or Latino. About a tenth of stops led to arrests.

During the Wednesday interview, Jeffries said Kelly should be held accountable for the program and its civil rights implications.

"He should get credit, as the mayor should, for the continued decline in crime, but these violations of civil rights and civil liberties that he's presided over, both as it relates to the Muslim surveillance program and the stop and frisk program cannot be excused."

He continued, "There's got to be an effective balance between national security or effective law enforcement on the one hand and a healthy respect for our civil rights and civil liberties on the other. Ray Kelly, during his tenure as police commissioner under Michael Bloomberg, has consistently disrespected that balance, and that's why I think he would be a poor choice for secretary of Homeland Security."

Watch the full "All In" segment above.

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