New York police violated no laws when its officers traveled to New Jersey to conduct surveillance at mosques and Muslim businesses, New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa has concluded after three months of review.
While the review continues, Chiesa was to meet with Muslim leaders Thursday to say he's seen no violation of state law. In addition, the NYPD's monitoring did not constitute racial profiling, an official in Chiesa's office said. Rather, the official told The Record newspaper chain serving northern New Jersey, NYPD followed "legitimate law enforcement leads, intelligence received from around the world, and its experience in counterterrorism."
Most of the NYPD's surveillance in New Jersey was done on public streets, but led to a listing of all mosques and Muslim businesses in Newark.
Disclosures about the cross-state surveillance angered Muslim activists and several prominent New Jersey politicians, including Gov. Chris Christie. While NYPD officials did notify their local counterparts, Christie was angry he didn't know about it. He backed Chiesa's findings, though, saying, "If that's what he determined, it's good enough for me."
Chiesa did issue a directive demanding that state police agencies immediately alert other agencies when they are notified about future outside law enforcement activities. A separate agreement with the NYPD requires monthly meetings to share information about counter-terrorism activities, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.
Muslim activists had demanded a formal investigation by both states and the Justice Department, but thus far, none has been launched. White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan praised the NYPD during an appearance at its headquarters last month, saying the department is "doing things consistent with the law, and it's something that again has been responsible for keeping this city safe over the past decade."
The White House later issued a statement saying Brennan's comments were unrelated to the surveillance program.
Chiesa's informal findings are likely to anger NYPD critics. One said groups might cut off any cooperation with police agencies.