NYPD response to NY Times editorial
The New York Times is wrong in claiming in an editorial that the NYPD overstepped constitutional guarantees in protecting New Yorkers from violent crime and terrorism. The Times continues to ignore the fact that the NYPD operates under a judicial federal accord in protecting New Yorkers against terrorism.
The Police Department also lawfully stops and questions individuals acting suspiciously and, in doing so, has dramatically reduced murders in the city’s most violent-prone neighborhoods.
In intelligence gathering, the NYPD adheres to set of federal guidelines known as the Handschu consent decree, which were approved and promulgated by a federal judge.
The guidelines recognize that the NYPD must be proactive in the investigation of terrorism. They begin with the statement of a general principle which says:
“In its effort to anticipate or prevent unlawful activity, including terrorist acts, the NYPD must, at times, initiate investigations in advance of unlawful conduct.
“The NYPD is authorized to visit any place and attend any event that is open to the public” and “to conduct online search activity and to access online sites and forums on the same terms… as members of the public.”
The Department is further authorized to “prepare general reports and assessments… for purposes of strategic or operational planning.”
Those who intimate that it is unlawful for the Police Department to search online or map neighborhoods have either not read, misunderstood, or intentionally obfuscated the meaning of the Handschu guidelines.
TERRORISTS KEEP TRYING
Before 9/11, there were terrorist attacks in each of the decades of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, including the first attack on the World Trade Center. There have been no successful attacks in the past ten years. It’s not as if would-be terrorists aren’t trying. To the contrary, they’ve attempted to kill New Yorkers in 14 different plots, among them, two homegrown plots in 2011.
In May, the NYPD arrested Ahmed Ferhani and Mohammed Mamdouh, after Ferhani purchased firearms, ammunition, and a hand grenade from an undercover officer. Ferhani said he wanted to bomb a synagogue in Manhattan. Ferhani and Mamdouh are now in custody charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and other crimes.
In November, the NYPD stopped another homegrown plot with the arrest of Jose Pimentel at his home in Washington Heights. Pimentel had spoken openly of his plans to attack post offices, police vehicles, and returning soldiers.
An NYPD undercover officer, working the JTTF in New Jersey was also responsible
For the arrest of two Jersey residents who tried to join terrorist overseas for training with the intent, in the words of one of them, to return to the US to “commit Jihad” here.
STOP, QUESTION, FRISK
NYPD critics also erroneously assert that the police are racially biased in making stops, ignoring the fact that we focus police resources where spikes in violent crime are the highest, and where last year 96% of shooting victims were minorities, mainly young men of color.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
NYPD tactics made a difference. Last year, murders in Brooklyn North fell by 16%. That’s almost four times the citywide rate of decline. Among African-American men between the ages of 16 and 37 in neighborhoods where NYPD/ Church Coalition churches are located the decrease was even more dramatic: 33%.
The critics also ignore the NYPD’s own diversity. In 2006, for the first time in our history, the rank of police officer became majority minority, with more black, Hispanic, and Asian officers than white. In December we graduated a Police Academy class of almost 1,600 officers. They came from 58 different countries and speak 62 languages. In January, we hired an equally diverse class of 900 recruits.