Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the NYPD on Thursday against allegations its CIA-assisted domestic counter-terrorism unit has been inappropriately spying on Muslim communities.
“In the end the NYPD’s first job is prevention, and I think they’ve done a very good job at that,” the mayor told reporters at a news conference Thursday, one day after an Associated Press report claimed police have been aggressively monitoring Muslim communities using tactics that some are slamming as gross infringements on civil rights.
A secret unit within the NYPD was formed to spy on ethnic communities, visiting bars, bookstores and beauty salons, and also used informants — dubbed “mosque crawlers” — to eavesdrop in places of worship even with no perceived threat, the AP said.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the report was “marked by outright fiction.”
But Bloomberg defended the tactics used by the NYPD in the city, which he said is a prime target for terrorist attacks.
“The first job is to make sure to the extent humanly possible that it does not happen,” he said. “We don’t stop to think about the religion. We stop to think about the threats and focus our efforts there.”
Bloomberg stressed that police have foiled approximately 13 terrorist plots against the city since 9/11.