LETTER: Jersey City Police Chief Kelly’s recent remarks show he’s out of touch


In a letter to the editor, former Jersey City Police Chief Robert Cowan explains why he believes current Chief Michael Kelly’s remarks regarding new and veteran officers shows he’s out of touch with the department. 

Former Jersey City Police Chief Robert Cowan. Photo courtesy of Cowan Investigations.

Dear Editor,

I always liked Mike Kelly, but let’s call a spade a spade.

Chief Kelly has had a wonderful and charmed career path, most of Kelly’s work experience involved working in Monday through Friday 9 to 5 staff positions; these positions Kelly has always seemed to occupy also came with the benefit of holidays off, nice gig for thirty years, if you can get it.

Chief Kelly could have made a point of the utility of having “young aggressive cops” without denigrating twenty-five-year officers, but he chose not to.

Most of the police officers in the patrol division, as well as the district detectives I came to know in my thirty-three years of working the overnight shift during weekends and holidays were good cops; some may have been “young and aggressive,” others were “twenty-five-year veterans,” experience Chief Kelly seems not to appreciate.

To transgress slightly, it was rather amusing seeing Mayor Fulop looking on as Chief Kelly talked about aggressive cops.

The one thing which always united us 24 hour, 7 day a week police officers working out in the street, was the concern that our often split-second decisions which were made without the benefit of hindsight, would always be Monday Morning Quarterbacked by the elite Monday through Friday Bosses.

Being in patrol in the precincts, you come to expect being second guessed from bureaucrats like Kelly, pencil pushers who would always pontificate on how things could have been done better.

The critical incident analysis conducted by these nine to fivers would mostly take place with no input requested from those officers that had actually been involved in the incident being analyzed.

The bureaucrats making the analysis had often been home in bed at night when the incidents they are assessing occur; these administrators get together over coffee from the safety, sanctity and peacefulness of their offices, pulling apart an incident and criticizing the 24/7 working cops, while telling themselves how things could have been done much better.

It is alarming to me that Chief Kelly holds so little respect for the knowledge, skills and abilities possessed by so many long-time Jersey City Police Officers.

I worked the streets of Jersey City for thirty-three years in the Patrol Division, one thing I came to learn was the fact that whether your running into a burning building or you were entering into a situation where there was a possibility of a bad guy shooting at you, it was always very important to know who had your back.

With that in mind, I always trusted most of my brother and sister officers to have my back in dangerous situations, whether they were street cops or bureaucrats.

However, I will not generalize like Chief Kelly, there are certainly some police officers you can never count on to have your back when involved in dangerous situations, some will just run the other way while you are ascending the hill.

In closing, it serves no productive purpose for Chief Kelly to separate working cops and their value to the JCPD as being the “young aggressive cop” or a “twenty-five year veteran officer” that has no value in reducing crime, rather you need to look into ones character.

Robert Cowan
Owner of Cowan Investigations, LLC

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