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New York police disband unit that monitored Muslim communities

Published on Apr 16, 2014 7:54 AM

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The New York Police Department has disbanded a surveillance unit that targeted and monitored Muslim communities, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The unit, which began in 2003, has been largely inactive since the incoming police commissioner William Bratton took over the department in January, and its detectives have been reassigned, the report said. "Understanding certain local demographics can be a useful factor when assessing the threat information that comes into New York City virtually on a daily basis," Stephen Davis, the NYPD's chief spokesman, was quoted as saying. "In the future, we will gather that information, if necessary, through direct contact between the police precincts and the representatives of the communities they serve," he said.

The NYPD and Davis did not respond to Reuters' requests for confirmation or comment. The surveillance programme deployed undercover detectives in Muslim neighbourhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and watch day-to-day activities. Police also infiltrated mosques and student groups.

The department's widespread programme was first revealed in a series of articles by the Associated Press, which reported that officers had infiltrated Muslim organisations in the region following the World Trade Centre attacks of September 11, 2001.

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