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NYPD Muslim Spying Controversy Won’t Go Away In NJ

The political battle over what the New York Police Department (NYPD) did or did not tell New Jersey officials about their surveillance of Muslims in the Garden State rages on.

Governor Chris Christie
Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continues to insist that the NYPD didn’t inform officials on this side of the Hudson about anything they were doing.

The scope of the questioning is getting broader. Christie is now being asked how he feels philosophically about the secret monitoring of Muslims which many say is nothing more than blatant racial profiling.

At a press conference in his outer office at the State House in Trenton yesterday, the Governor was asked if he thinks it is appropriate to monitor people who are not specifically suspected of any wrong doing.

“These are very complicated issues and I think they have to be made on a case by case basis,” explained Christie. “I don’t think you can set out one hard and fast rule on this. I think when you put that kind of straight jacket on yourself it’s kind of hard to then make sure you’re serving and protecting the people the way you’re supposed to.”

Christie continued, “My view on it would be that kind of decision should be made on a case by case basis by the law enforcement folks who are in charge of making those decisions……My experience tells me you have to trust the people in the leadership of law enforcement to make the right decisions on this.”

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The Governor insists that all he is asking the NYPD to do is to make one phone call if they’re planning on coming to New Jersey to pursue a case. He says that call should go to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Newark because it would include the FBI, the State Attorney General, the State Police and all of the major local law enforcement agencies. Two representatives of the NYPD are also on that task force.

Christie says, “I don’t think anybody in New York said that they informed anybody about New Brunswick on what they were doing at Rutgers and I haven’t heard a thing from (New York Police) commissioner (Ray) Kelly or (New York) Mayor Mike Bloomberg….I haven’t heard anything from any of them that they informed anybody about what was going on in New Brunswick.”

The Governor says there is still a dispute about what Newark police were told about the NYPD’s activities in New Jersey. Asked directly if he believes the NYPD told Newark police anything at all, Christie said, “It is my understanding they did not.”

Kelly has said he is doing everything within the law to protect the city from another terrorist attack. The department is bound under federal guidelines, known as the Handschu guidelines, on how it can do certain investigations, and Kelly said the department’s efforts follow them.

U.S. Representative Peter King from New York, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and a staunch supporter of the NYPD, says the department deserves a medal and other police departments should mimic its counter-terrorism efforts. He also took a shot at Christie.

“It’s really disturbing and disappointing to have someone like Chris Christie join on this politically correct bandwagon,” said King in a recent radio appearance. “I wish Chris Christie was more concerned about keeping people alive than he is about trying to score cheap political points.”

Christie responded yesterday by saying, “Someone should ask Congressman King if he opposes law enforcement agencies coordinating with each other because I’ve heard him speak on it in the past. So I assume the only thing he opposes is Ray Kelly having to coordinate with anybody. I did this work, as opposed to Congressman King. He never prosecuted a terrorism case. I’ve prosecuted a number of them.”

Two Executive Orders signed by then-Governor Dick Codey in 2005 gave the NYPD limited power when conducting investigations in New Jersey. Christie says he’s reviewing the orders to see if any changes should be made.

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