NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The head of the Newark FBI said Wednesday the NYPD’s monitoring of Muslims in New Jersey has had a chilling effect on the feds’ ability to gather counter terrorism intelligence.
In the annals of policing this is unheard of. Usually people in law enforcement hang together. If they have squabbles they keep it in the cone of silence.
Not this time.
“What we’re seeing now with the uproar that is occurring in New Jersey is that we’re starting to see cooperation pulled back. People are concerned that they’re being followed. People are concerned that they can’t trust law enforcement,” said FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge Michael Ward.
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Ward said the NYPD’s spying on mosques and Muslim businesses in the Garden State has caused sources to dry up and made the job of gathering counter terrorism intelligence much more difficult, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
“It’s starting to have a negative impact. When people pull back cooperation it creates additional risks. It creates blind spots. It hinders our ability to have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on around the state,” Ward said.
Ward’s attack is the latest criticism of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly’s decision to send cops way beyond the borders of the five boroughs to seek out people who might want to attack New York City.
But it’s the first attack by a brother law enforcement official, and it’s the first public display of what appears to b a long-simmering resentment among federal officials of Kelly’s success in building a 1,000-member counter terrorism unit that rivals any unit anywhere.
By comparison, the Newark FBI office has 100 agents.
Police experts told Kramer the attack is unprecedented.
“I’ve been in the field for 42 years and I can’t recall it happening before,” said Robert McCrie, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Ward kept his on-camera comments brief, but then leveled other criticism of the NYPD, charging that Kelly’s force keeps a close hold on any intelligence it gathers and only shares what it wants when it wants.
“Law enforcement agencies don’t generally speak in the way this SAC did,” McCrie said.
The NYPD vigorously defended its past and present surveillance tactics and pointed out that many terrorist operations, including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and the 9/11 attack were masterminded in New Jersey.
The Department also pointed to the present terror concerns involving Israel and Iran. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said: “…as the likelihood of military conflict between Israel and/or the United States escalates, understanding where an operative for Hezbollah, Iran’s terror ally, may try to meld in would be absolutely vital for the protection of New York City.”
And in a sort of good cop-bad cop scenario, the head of the FBI in Washington praised Kelly and the NYPD on Wednesday for doing a “remarkable job in protecting New York.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has refused to criticize harsh comments from critics of the NYPD’s tactics, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but he did defend the city.
“Anything we’ve done in New Jersey, we have done under an agreement with the state of New Jersey that was signed by a previous governor, and still remains in effect,” said Bloomberg on Tuesday.
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Not backing down one inch, the mayor said the city will continue to gather the kind of information that the Constitution, and court decisions, allow it to do.
“We work with the governor of New Jersey and the state of New Jersey all the time. We’ll continue to do that,” added Bloomberg.
Christie said the NYPD thinks the world is their jurisdiction and the danger, he said, is that one agency cannot be aware of everything, and a lesson of 9/11 is that all levels of law enforcement need to communicate.
“I’m not saying they don’t belong in New Jersey, but tell us! Share it with the appropriate law enforcement agency,” Christie said. “My concern is this kind of obsession that the NYPD seems to have that they’re the masters of the universe.”
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Back in 2005, then New Jersey Gov. Dick Codey signed the executive orders that allowed the NYPD to cross the Hudson, and carry out surveillance operations in New Jersey.
But, as Codey told WCBS 880, he did not authorize any spying.
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