SHAFAQNA – The NYPD’s Inspector General came down hard on the city’s police force Tuesday over concerns they are not following court-mandated rules for surveilling political groups. But the NYPD was more interested in highlighting the rosier parts of the report in an all-positive response.
The Inspector General conducted an investigation into the NYPD’s following of the Handschu Guidelines, a 1985 ruling outlining political activity as being protected by the Constitution as freedom of speech. Ninety-five percent of the investigations studied applied to surveillance of Muslims, according to the report. The report doesn’t even include the Muslim surveillance unit disbanded in 2014 when Mayor Bill de Blasio came into office.
And yet the study by the Inspector General found that the NYPD was routinely abusing the Handschu Guidelines in the cases studied between 2010 and 2015.
“OIG-NYPD’s investigation found that NYPD, while able to articulate a valid basis for commencing investigations, was often non-compliant with a number of the rules governing the conduct of these investigations,” the report states.
The report found that the NYPD continued monitoring groups 53.5 percent of the time after approval expired, continued using human sources 57.5 percent of the time after approval expired, failed to describe the role of undercover officers and didn’t make it clear why continued surveillance was necessary even when they kept it up.
Also, the paperwork filed contained a lot of typos. The report notes that instead of filling out specific information for specific cases, they just copy and pasted the same text — with the same typos — onto every sheet.
“Protecting New York City residents from terrorism is a prime responsibility of NYPD – one it has done with remarkable and commendable success,” the report reads. “Terrorism is a real threat that requires constant vigilance; it does not require, however, that NYPD fall short of adhering to well-accepted rules for protecting the rights of the citizens it is sworn to protect.”
The NYPD, however, was more than happy to focus solely on the fact that the Inspector General found the need for terrorism-related investigations were “sufficiently articulated.”
“The NYPD has never suggested that protecting New York City from terrorism and adhering to the Handschu Guidelines were mutually exclusive outcomes,” Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said in a statement. “Rather, it has always been our assertion that we will go where the evidence takes us, and we will do so within the guidelines of the law. I am very pleased the Inspector General’s audit has independently confirmed this to be true, and I thank the IG’s office for its work on this audit and report.”