Order to Shoot Down Planes Would Come From Mayor, Says Kelly

By Jill Colvin on October 7, 2011 7:28am 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has the authority to shoot down plane, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said on Thurs., Oct. 6, 2011.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has the authority to shoot down plane, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said on Thurs., Oct. 6, 2011.
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Jemal Countess/Getty Images

CITY HALL — Mayor Michael Bloomberg not only has the power to sign legislation. He can also shoot down planes.

Speaking at a City Council hearing Thursday on the NYPD’s surveillance practices post 9/11, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the mayor would have final say if the city were ever faced with the “extreme situation” of having to shoot down a plane in control of terrorists hell-bent on striking the city.

“Yes,” Kelly answered when asked point-blank whether the mayor is the ultimate decision-maker. 

Kelly spurred headlines last month when he said during an interview on 60 Minutes that the NYPD has the capacity to take down aircraft.

Kelly told the Council he was referring to 50-caliber rifles mounted on police helicopters, which are capable of taking down small planes, but not larger jets.

Kelly explained the move to arm the aircraft was prompted by an early Al Qaeda plot to use crop dusters to spray cities with chemical or biological weapons, like Anthrax.

The Commissioner said that in the extreme case of an attempted strike, “We would want to have federal authorities send resources here as quickly as possible,” he said.

But in case they couldn't make it, he wanted the city at the ready.

“We didn’t want to be totally helpless at two o’clock in the morning… with a small plane disseminating Anthrax over Manhattan and waiting for somebody to come from an Air Force base in Massachusetts,” he said.

Kelly also testified that the NYPD's Joint Operations Center has a direct line to the FAA tower at local airports.

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