ALBANY, N.Y. — Three Democratic New York state senators want an independent inspector to oversee the New York Police Department after what they called several abuses, including reports of widespread surveillance of Muslims and the crackdown on Occupy Wall Street protesters.
The bill follows stories by The Associated Press that detailed monitoring of Muslims, a tactic decried by some as religious profiling. The bill targets “stop-and-frisk, the treatment of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, and the wholesale surveillance of the Muslim community in New York City and other jurisdictions.”
The measure from Sens. Kevin Parker, Eric Adams and Bill Perkins of New York City who are frequent critics of police dealings with minorities has little chance of passage, however. The Senate bill lacks essential support by the Republican majority, which is close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It also needs a request from city officials.
Bloomberg opposes the bill and said the city won’t turn over the police department to an outside group. He and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have defended the department’s tactics and say police follow only legitimate leads and don’t monitor ethnic neighborhoods. A May 2006 police report addressed to Kelly, however, recommended increased spying at mosques and an assessment of the region’s Palestinian community to look for potential terrorists.
“No one is above the law, not even law enforcement,” Parker said. “This legislation seeks to restore the public trust and honor the heroism and service of thousands of officers.”
In a series of investigative reports since August, the AP has revealed that, with the CIA’s help, the NYPD developed spying programs that monitored every aspect of Muslim life and built databases on where innocent Muslims eat, shop, work and pray. Plainclothes officers monitored conversations in Muslim neighborhoods and wrote daily reports about what they heard.