Philip Eure, the NYPD's new Inspector General, begins his job today with a complaint against the department's practice of spying on political organizations.
The AP revealed what many had known for decades: NYPD operatives attend meetings of groups like the Jena Coalition, the International Solidarity Movement Chapter, and Occupy Wall Street. A police memo obtained by the AP [PDF] showed that a spy even traveled to New Orleans in 2008 to sit in on meetings for a variety of social justice groups.
Some of the groups mentioned in the report are responsible for today's complaint. “We need tangible, concrete proposals of how we can ensure the NYPD does not target an entire group, set of groups, or political activists in general based on their participation in political advocacy,” the complaint states.
Technically, those guidelines already exist: the NYPD is supposed to abide by the Handschu Decree, which since 1986 has stated that police may not spy on political groups when there is no "reasonable indication" of unlawful activity. Evidence can be collected on groups where there is no evidence of criminal activity, but only if the City gets the approval of a three-member oversight board.
After 9/11, a judge allowed the NYPD to bypass that panel and significantly loosened the "reasonable indication" rule, allowing police to spy but only note conversations that concern possible criminal activity. But it appears that the department has even ignored this guideline: the memo detailing the actions of the political groups obtained by the AP has details of innocuous plans for demonstrations, not illegal activity.
Today's complaint asks the IG to conduct an investigation into the Intelligence Division's activities. The IG will work under the City's Department of Investigation, which has yet to add Eure to their website.
"Today is Philip Eure’s first day as the independent Inspector General for the NYPD and his first order of business is to hire staff," a DOI spokesperson says in a release. "The office is reviewing complaints, including the one received today and referred to in press articles, and will determine appropriate investigative action once the office is staffed."
The spokesperson added that to submit a complaint to the NYPD IG, one should just submit it to the DOI as they would any complaint about any other City agency.
Earlier this year, Commissioner Bratton and Mayor de Blasio announced that the department would no longer indiscriminately spy on Muslims. That claim was later proven to be premature.