Homeland Security

NYPD Chief: Unit Accused of Spying on Muslims 'Was Never an Investigatory Entity'

New York Police Chief Bill Bratton argued “you cannot police a community without effectively working with” Muslim-Americans.

Bratton reacted angrily last week to Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) call for more police patrols in Muslim neighborhoods after the Brussels attacks.

“We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” Cruz said.

NY’s top cop told MSNBC this morning that “we have a huge Muslim population from all over the world, not just Arab countries, but from all over the world living here, 700,000 to 800,000 of them.”

“I have almost a thousand Muslim officers in my department,” Bratton said. “In New York, the counterterrorism effort’s vast and huge. The 9/11 event was a wake-up call for America and certainly for New York City. My predecessor Ray Kelly put in place a great foundation. We’ve been building on that these last two years that I’ve been commissioner.”

“And what we’re attempting to do is repair damaged relationships with that Muslim community that had been damaged for a period of time, because it was felt we were spying on them, that we were trying to intimidate them, that we were not concerned with their concerns. We’ve learned with the past.”

Bratton compared the need to build trust and work with Muslim communities to “the issues we’ve had with African-American communities over these many generations.”

The post-9/11 demographics unit Cruz was talking about, Bratton said, had 14 to 16 detectives with the task “to identify where did various communities live in New York City” and “very specifically, Muslim communities, the many diverse nationalities that make up that community.” There were only two detectives left in the unit by the time Bratton took the helm of the NYPD in 2014.

“It’s been portrayed by many of the tabloids and by Senator Cruz that somehow or another by disbanding that unit, that we lost a valuable tool in the fight against terrorism,” he continued. “We did not. It was never an investigatory entity. The chief of my intelligence unit, who was the chief under Commissioner Kelly, testified in a lawsuit that the unit never developed one piece of actionable intelligence.”

“So, there’s a misrepresentation that’s been played over and over again and that Senator Cruz in his lack of knowledge of what works here in New York, once again reiterated his attack on this city.”

Bratton added that Muslims in the police force and other city services “came to this country, many of them, to get away from oppression and tyranny in their native countries.”

“And to come here and to hear themselves, if you will, portrayed as somehow or another, enemies of our country, it hurts. I was at a restaurant last evening, the waiter who I’ve known for many years, was talking — Muslim, was talking about his 8-year-old daughter in a public school here, about the concerns she has about, daddy, why do they hate us so much?” he said. “So words hurt and they really do hurt, particularly if you’re the subject of them.”

Cruz told Fox News on Sunday that his plan is “proactive law enforcement — what that looks like is addressing the problem and engaging the problem, using every tool, law enforcement, national security, intelligence, using the military abroad to defeat the enemy.”

“You know, there was a successful program in New York City that was started under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It did exactly this. It engaged cooperatively with the Muslim community but it got involved to prevent radicalization, to prevent radical Islamic terror cells from performing and prevent any acts of terror before they’re carried out,” Cruz said.

“Now, unfortunately, liberal Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, when he got elected, one of the first things he did in a nod to political correctness is he did disband that unit. That doesn’t make any sense. We need to be going after where the threat comes from and the threat comes from radicalization.”