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Head of FBI in New Jersey speaks out on NYPD operations, says public trust damaged
NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) ' The New York Police Department's clandestine surveillance of Muslims has damaged the public's trust in New Jersey law enforcement and jeopardized some of the relationships agents had sought to build in the community since the 2001 terror attacks, the head of the FBI in New Jersey said Wednesday.
Michael Ward, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Newark Division, emphasized, however, that his agency has an overall good working relationship with the NYPD.
He said two NYPD investigators had been assigned to the New Jersey-based Joint Terrorism Task Force for years and operated under clear guidelines and engaged in regular interagency briefings.
Ward said he learned about some of the activities conducted by a different NYPD intelligence division through a series of reports by The Associated Press. The reports detailed the department's secret surveillance of mosques, Muslim-owned businesses and college campuses across the Northeast.
He said it was those types of activities that risk undermining a key aspect of law enforcement: the ability to enlist the trust and cooperation of the public.
"What we're seeing now with the uproar that's occurring in New Jersey, is that we're starting to see cooperation pulled back," Ward said. "People are concerned that they're being followed, they're concerned that they can't trust law enforcement and it's having a negative impact."
Ward told reporters he was aware that officers from the NYPD's intelligence division were working in the state, adding that it was known to most New Jersey law enforcement officials who work on counterterrorism issues. But Ward said that although he met with NYPD intelligence officials on a bimonthly basis, he wasn't briefed on the extent of the NYPD's operations outside the task force.
Muslim leaders in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and elsewhere have requested investigations into the NYPD's activities.