Sunday, December 28, 2014

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The Call Blog: NYPD Asst. Chief Says Muslim Spying Did Not Generate Leads

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Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne was tonight's First Word. During his phone interview he said the reason the NYPD's Demographics Unit never generated a lead was because that was not the unit's intention.

He released the following statement to NY1 earlier today: "In the reporters’ bizarro world, they first falsely accuse the NYPD of using demographics to 'spy' and launch investigations, and now accuse us of 'failure' for not doing that which we said all along were we not doing."

What's your reaction to these remarks?

In the more than six years the NYPD has been surveilling Muslim neighborhoods, the department’s Demographics Unit has never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation. The NYPD’s assistant chief admitted this in a June testimony unsealed late yesterday.

The Demographics Unit was crucial in creating databases noting where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police hoped the unit would serve as an early warning system for terrorism, but Assistant Chief Thomas Galati said the information that was collected “has not commenced an investigation.”

Galati’s testimony is part of a longstanding federal civil rights case that began in 1971 over NYPD spying on students, civil rights groups and suspected Communist sympathizers during the 50s and 60s. That resulted in federal guidelines prohibiting the NYPD from collecting information about political speech unless it is related to potential terrorism. Civil rights lawyers believe the Demographics Unit violated those rules.

But Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg have long defended these so-called counterterrorism tactics. In March, Commissioner Kelly met with a group of Muslim leaders, and assured them the NYPD was obeying the law. Mayor Bloomberg insisted, “We’re doing the right thing. We will continue to do the right thing. We take every precaution possible to not do anything that ever violates the law.” What do you say?

What’s your reaction to testimony that the NYPD never generated a lead from its surveillance of Muslim neighborhoods? Did the NYPD’s tactics violate federal guidelines? Should the Justice Department launch an investigation into the NYPD’s practices?

Send your thoughts using the e-mail link above.

The fact that this unit never found nothing amiss should be a sign to city, state and federal officials that targeting all Muslims for suspicions of terrorist activities is not only wrong but a waste of resources

Felix Bay Ridge

Rarely does Bloomberg and his minions do the right thing. They get an idea, initiate, discover or concoct some study that lends support to the action and then proceed to unleash government, i.e. police power on the group originally targeted out of thin air for investigation.

If stop and frisk can reveal hundreds of domestic villains and criminals, you can't tell me they can't expose a single Muslim villain.

Port Richmond, SI

9/11 has been a pretext for the government as a whole to circumvent common sense and Democracy, why would the Bloomberg administration be any different? This testimony straight from an NYPD official is going to be waved off by Bloomberg and Kelly just like the report that they grossly overstated the amount of terrorist plots they had foiled. At the end of the day this all comes down to what is wrong with this city as a whole, the Mayor and his minions really think they are the Federal government or even something bigger in their delusional minds. They haven't been able to stops guns or drugs from coming into this city, and they can barely handle the juvenile criminals that have been running wild in the city, what makes them think they can really find high level or even medium level international terrorist?

As for the question of whether they broke Federal laws, that will be up to someone else in the government so who knows what direction that will blow. One thing is certain, the Mayors and police in some of the other cities and states they have encroached into have already voiced their displeasure for their sometimes covert activities, and that just comes down to jurisdiction and common courtesy. The Mayor and Kelly need to be concerned with doing the main job the citizens pay them for, and if anything they should be sued for trying to impersonate the President and FBI director.

The Bronx

The rules for surveillance as it pertains to a particular ethnic group should very carefully devised or it soon becomes a slippery slope where privacy and freedom of speech usurped by state imperatives.


The government dropped the ball allowing the 9/11 attackers to follow through with their plans. The NYPD knows that New York City and the country cannot survive another attack. Does anybody remember the Buffalo cell that was discovered before they could strike? All is fair in war and we are in a war whether we like it or not.

Jimmy from the Bronx.

The police department is violating muslims right. They are the ones somebody should be watching with all the wrong they do to others and they are "suppose" to be protecting us.

Audrey - Flushing

This report doesn't surprise me at all. But in spite of the obvious failure of its spying program, the NYPD is going to continue to do what it wants regardless, just like it rationalizes continuing stop and frisk even though after violating the the civil rights of 700,000 boys and men of color in one year, only 6% of stops resulted in arrests, mostly for misdemeanor drug charges. As long as the NYPD uses racial and ethnic profiling to fuel its policies they will continue to be ineffective.

Meryl from Manhattan

Not only is the NYPD not making any safer and wasting valuable resources on such misguided programs, but they're also alienating a whole section of New Yorkers - Muslim New Yorkers - making them feel like they're second class citizens in this city.

Diala, Brooklyn, NY.

the NYPD is feeling the heat and are now in denial after the docs were released. what a waste of resources.

We as Americans should not tolerate such act and should look Back 70 years ago on how racisim affect millions. History should not repeat itself specially here as we lead the world.


Paul Brown is the one who denied the existence of the Demographics Unit and denied that the NYPD Commissioner participated in the islamophobic film, the 3rd Jihad. What else is he hiding?

New Springville

I think it was completely appropriate for the NYPD to have done surveillance on the Muslim community.

Our government has made terrible errors in judgement in letting into our country, for example, in 1990 Abel-Rahman even though he was on the terrorist watch list.

His followers HERE IN OUR CITY carried out the first WTC attack.

While in our country he declared a fatwah to blow up the United Nations, the GW bridge! The Lincoln and Holland tunnels. Nobody knows what was avoided by having the police pressure on, and having eyes on them, perhaps thwarted more violence. Before the 9/11 attacks, there were Muslim school children who told their teachers that the WTC would be bombed. Look at all the recent attempts at terrorism here, most recently in Times Square, and they were done by Muslims. This is a random singling out of a group of people for the hell of it. Radical fundamentalist Muslims are a tiny minority, but we would be utter fools to ignore the fact that those terrorists are at war with us and all the West stands for, and it is imperative for the NYPD to do due diligence.

I am not against Muslims in the least, but for people to scratch their heads in wonder on why the NYPD needed to take a look at the community, that same naïveté is what allowed is to happen to us. If members of the Khmer Rouge had murdered thousands of people on 9/11, I would hope that the NYPD would have done the same.

Simone - Manhattan

The problem is we are scared, after Pearl Harbor The US government detained Japanese Americans in camps. Tolerance works both ways, I think the Muslim community is being very insensitive by locating a Muslim Mask and Community Center, so close to the site of 911. Again, tolerance and sensitivity should work both ways.

Murry Hill

Anyone who makes statements like "the NYPD isn't making anything safer...they're wasting money..."etc. ought to check their facts and read about the many plots by Muslim extremists since 9/11 to blow up the subway, blow up JFK Airport, blow up a SUV in Tiimes Sq. Etc, all thwarted by NYPD vigilance. Stop blaming the NYPD and look into your own community which is breeding terrorists.

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