Sunday, June 17, 2012

NYPD faces politicians, Muslim advocates seeking control of cops

by Jim Kouri

Democrats serving on New York's City Council are proposing legislation that would create a new position in response to complaints from Muslim groups and left-wing organizations opposed to the current counterterrorism activities of the New York City Police Department.

In response, New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg went on record saying he opposes "planned legislation to create independent oversight of the New York Police Department."

Two dozen members of the City Council, which is overwhelmingly Democratic, introduced legislation on Wednesday that would create the position of inspector general who would head a department that possesses subpoena power and broad investigative authority to monitor the 40,000-member NYPD. The measure is supported by Muslim groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

"The NYPD is the most regulated department in the entire city," Bloomberg said. "I think we have enough supervision and oversight. We need to focus on just getting the bad guys off the street and getting the guns out of their hands."

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"If anyone needs oversight it's the liberal-left dominated city council. What was historically a citizens group who volunteered their time to help the city and its people has evolved into a full-time career for party hacks and second-rate politicians," said an angry former police detective, now working in the court system.

NYPD surveillance of Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey was also condemned by critics who claim it constitutes racial profiling.

Last week, Muslims living in northern New Jersey announced that they had filed a class-action lawsuit against the New York City Police Department's surveillance of mosques, businesses, universities and other locations as part of its anti-terrorism program.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Newark (Essex County), New Jersey, on behalf of a number of Muslim-American organizations, Muslim-owned businesses, and individual members of the Islamic community, according to a national Muslim group.

The group -- Muslim Advocates -- said in a statement: "Today, a diverse group of American Muslim plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to end the New York City Police Department's invasive and discriminatory spying program. The suit, filed by Muslim Advocates, the leading national legal advocacy group working to defend the civil liberties of American Muslims, details countless acts of invasive and discriminatory spying authorized by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly."

While the NYPD's surveillance operation outraged the members of the New York-New Jersey Muslim communities, it is supported by the majority of residents, according to recent polls. A Quinnipiac Poll revealed that 62 percent of New Jersey voters said the NYPD's focus on Muslims was appropriate, 18 percent said it was unfair and 20 percent did not express an opinion. Republicans supported it 83-8 percent, Democrats by 44-27 percent, and independents by 64-17 percent.