It was this same militarized police force that, under Kelly, conducted a midnight raid on Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan in 2011, rounding up and arresting journalists and scores of Occupy Wall Street protesters.
It was Kelly who defended his department after the Associated Press uncovered its surveillance of the city's Muslim communities.
Amidst growing outrage, Kelly also defended his department's use of stop-and-frisk. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were stopped by police during his stint as commissioner, the overwhelming majority of whom were black or Latino.
And yet, even Ray Kelly thinks police in Ferguson, Missouri, have gone way too far in their handling of the turmoil after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson last week.
"The toothpaste is out of the tube here," Kelly told Bloomberg News. "There's lots of things that should have been done differently, and you have to live with them."
The department's first major misstep, Kelly said, was not immediately releasing all of the information surrounding Brown's death. Telling the public what happened “certainly has the potential for quelling or lessening disturbances,” Kelly said. “You tell them what you know and tell them what you don’t know, rather than dribbling it out.”
Kelly also said it was "mind-boggling" that the Ferguson Police Department has 50 white police officers and just three black police officers in a town that's nearly 70 percent black.
Brown was shot the afternoon of Aug. 9 after he and a friend confronted by a police officer while walking in the street. Brown's friend, Dorian Johnson, said that the officer grabbed and struggled with Brown, then shot at the teen as Brown was trying to get away. Ferguson Police claim that Brown attacked the officer, and said that the officer involved in the altercation was injured. Multiple witnesses have said that they saw Brown with his hands up in the air when he was fatally shot; a privately conducted autopsy found that Brown was shot six times, including twice in the head. A federal autopsy is pending.
Police released footage on Friday that they said showed Brown robbing a convenience store for cigarillos. The department later confirmed Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, was not aware that he was a suspect in a robbery at the time of the shooting. The family's attorney accused police of trying to "assassinate the character of Michael Brown" to divert the criticism surrounding his death.
Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with investigators looking into the teen's death. A grand jury inquiry into Brown's shooting could also begin gathering evidence on Wednesday.
Kelly, who served as NYPD Commissioner from 1992 to 1994 and 2002 to 2013, currently oversees risk management services for real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield Inc. in New York.