How Will City Council Oversee NYPD’s Spooks after This?

In their stories on the way the NYPD’s intelligence programs profile religious and ethnic minorities, Goldman and Apuzzo have repeatedly noted that the only entity providing oversight of the programs is the City Council.

The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.

Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what’s going on.


The department’s primary watchdog, the New York City Council, has not held hearings on the intelligence division’s operations and former NYPD officials said council members typically do not ask for details.

“Ray Kelly briefs me privately on certain subjects that should not be discussed in public,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone. “We’ve discussed in person how they investigate certain groups they suspect have terrorist sympathizers or have terrorist suspects.”

Today, the NYPD handcuffed and detained City Councilman, Jumaane Williams, at an ethnic celebration.

A city councilman from Brooklyn was handcuffed and briefly detained by the police on Monday afternoon during the West Indian Day Parade after an argument with officers over whether he was allowed to use a closed sidewalk, said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, whose aide was also detained in the dispute.

The councilman, Jumaane D. Williams, was not charged with a crime, nor was the aide, Kirsten John Foy, Mr. De Blasio’s community affairs director.

Observers suggested Williams and his aide may have been targeted–profiled, just like the targets of the NYPD’s intelligence program–because they are black. And Williams has already been a critic of the NYPD’s intrusive tactics.

He has been an outspoken critic of the Police Department’s “stop, question and frisk” policy.

So one of the 50 or so people who are tasked with making sure the CIA-on-the-Hudson doesn’t improperly profile or abuse New Yorkers on the basis of their race or religion just got thrown to the ground after he dared use a sidewalk an apparent police supervisor had said he could use.

I’m sure this incident won’t affect this oversight relationship at all.