The new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says the NYPD thinks it's the NPD - the National Police Department. The Daily News reports that Democratic Mississippi representative Bennie Thompson is critical of the NYPD's tactics that stretch into other jurisdictions. He told the News, "While I understand that chasing down leads in other locales might help keep the city safe, I emphasized that the NYPD is not the FBI, that it does not have national jurisdiction."
When did he emphasize this? During a sit-down with NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen, after Thompson had sent a letter to Police Commissioner Kelly that noted concerns over issues like NYPD surveillance before the Republican National Convention.
"There is no question that the NYPD must remain diligent in its fight against terrorism. However, I emphasized during my meeting with NYPD officials that essential to that fight is an uncompromising respect for the privacy rights and civil liberties of our citizens," Thompson told The News. "While I was encouraged by NYPD's assurances that it hews strictly to tough privacy and civil liberties guidelines and policies, a practice I encouraged them to update me about regularly, I was troubled by the NYPD's revelations about its homeland activities outside New York City."
Commissioner Kelly said that the NYPD did tell local authorities about their pre-RNC work. And a Republican source tells the Daily News, "Thompson has a very liberal staff, which has its own agenda and sees the NYPD as a bunch of right-wing fascists." Republican Peter King, the former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said, "The NYPD is the best at what it does. And the bottom line is the NYPD has filled a breach in homeland security."
The Daily News is a bit skeptical of Thompson's claims, given that the News reports Thompson's small town mayor experience is limited to a town that's shy of a seven hundred people. And the News' Michael Daly's column says that it's a charade that Thompson's county, Hinds County, received a $179,724 Homeland Security grant. This story also reminds us of a 2005 New Yorker article by William Finnegan about the NYPD's international counterterrorism practices. Here's one part:
Within the counterterrorism world, the department’s transformation is highly regarded. “The N.Y.P.D. is really cutting-edge,” Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser at the rand corporation and a respected authority on terrorism, told me. “They’re developing best practices here that should be emulated across the country. The Feds could learn from them.” The federal government must, of course, play the leading role in stopping international terrorism at the borders. But, Jenkins said, “As this thing metastasizes, cops are it. We’re going to win this at the local level.”
Photograph by Triborough on Flickr