Muhammad U. Faridi, who was appointed to be the new...

Muhammad U. Faridi, who was appointed to be the new civilian member of the NYPD's Handschu Committee that screens investigations. Credit: Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP/PictureMoreBusiness.com / Michael Meyer

Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday tapped a prominent Muslim American attorney as the newest civilian member of the Handschu Committee, a body that provides oversight for the NYPD policies and practices related to investigations of political activities.

In choosing Muhammad U. Faridi as the independent civilian member of the committee, Adams noted that he will be the first Muslim American on the panel, which is composed primarily of NYPD personnel. Faridi will be replacing the only other civilian on the panel: former federal Judge Stephen Robinson, whose five-year term in Manhattan has come to an end.

The Handschu Committee was formed in 2017 following the settlement of two federal lawsuits alleging improper investigations of the Muslim community by the NYPD. Before the formation of the committee, NYPD activity in the area of political surveillance was governed by Handschu guidelines, so named for a plaintiff in a 1980s lawsuit over police political surveillance.

“It is especially fitting that a Muslim American is appointed to this oversight role,” said Adams at a news conference.

“This is a very important role,” Faridi said in some brief remarks. “Not only for the Muslim American community, but to all communities in New York.”

Under the Handschu Committee, police activities, investigations and political activities are screened and cleared before going forward. The committee includes Chief Thomas Galati, head of the department’s intelligence division.

“The civilian representative plays a vital role in providing us with the objective perspective on issues of paramount importance,” said Galati at the news conference.

Under the terms of the 2017 court settlement, the civilian representative can bring complaints to the police commissioner and ultimately to the federal court if police activities in the area of political surveillance are questionable.

Faridi is a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and City University of New York Law School. He was a law clerk for the late Brooklyn federal court Judge Jack B. Weinstein prior to joining the law firm of Patterson Belknap. Faridi also serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary.

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