The Big Apple’s top cop has been seen as a favorite to replace outgoing Secretary Janet Napolitano, who announced earlier this month that she would step down from the post to become chief of the University of California system.
“Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is, but if he's not, I'd want to know about it because obviously, he'd be very well-qualified for the job,” Obama told Univision.
The president called him “one of the best there is” and an “outstanding leader.”
Kelly has also attracted praise on Capitol Hill, with New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D) telling reporters that he had recommended Kelly for the position.
On Monday, Kelly also defended New York City’s stop-and-frisk policies, which allow police officers to stop and question individuals if they have a “reasonable” suspicion of wrongdoing.
Kelly called stop-and-frisk “a practice that is essential to policing.”
The practice is being challenged in court by critics who say it is racial profiling and unfairly targets minorities.
In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Kelly said the NYPD has helped save 7,383 lives with its “proactive policing strategies” dropping the murder rate to a 50-year low.
Justin Sink contributed.