News broke this morning that an NYPD spying operation was conducted in New Brunswick, NJ focused on Muslim Rutgers students. The civil police force was outside of its jurisdiction, but argues that the actions were permissible because they were not performing official police functions.
The story is still unfolding but it seems that a 911 call from the building manager of an apartment complex adjacent to the Rutgers campus thwarted the undercover operation. The caller recognized suspicious activity during a routine inspection and called his local police department.
During the inspection he found a NYPD spying safe house holding two beds and NYPD radios. The detectives working from the house were infiltrating Muslim student groups, tracking the actions of individuals related to the groups, and monitoring mosque activity.
The NYPD spying program is only part of their out of state monitoring programs that have been discovered in places like New Jersey and New Orleans. The practice has been defended by the department and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who do not believe that the NYPD should notify local jurisdictions of their operations.
The 911 call exposing the NYPD spying safe house has remained under wraps until they were turned over to the AP today following a successful lawsuit. Contained along with the tape were NYPD emails attempting to keep the tape a secret.
The emails and apartment records show an undercover officer using a fake name to sign the apartment lease and the name has been used elsewhere by the officer. The department refuses to release the name as it “will place the safety of any officers identified, as well as the undercover operatives with whom they work, at risk.”
The exposure has led to comparisons between the current NYPD spying operation and its Red Squads that spied on suspected communists in the 1950s.