[JURIST] A federal judge has rejected [opinion, PDF] the New York Police Department‘s (NYPD) [official website] proposed settlement [text] of a lawsuit accusing the department of improperly surveying the Muslim community. Following the September 11 attacks, the NYPD has reportedly used [Reuters report] undercover cops to monitor Muslim neighborhoods, organizations and mosques in the name of national security. Last year a settlement was reached [JURIST report], calling for a stricter modification of the police surveillance “Handschu” guidelines [text, PDF] and a civilian representative installed for five years to ensure that the NYPD properly complies. The NYPD declined to accept all proposed modifications yet acquiesced to the establishment of a civilian representative. Nevertheless, US District Judge Charles Haight rejected the proposed settlement stating that it does not sufficiently protect the constitutional rights of Muslim citizens residing in the city. Haight suggested that the NYPD further clarify the representatives role and take additional measures to ensure guideline compliance such as requiring reporting to the court. While expressing disappointment in the ruling, the New York City law department stated its intention to address the judge’s concerns.
In October of last year the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] revived [JURIST report] the civil rights lawsuit filed by a coalition of Muslim groups that accused the NYPD of conducting unjustified surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. In April 2014 the new commissioner of the NYPD William Bratton announced [JURIST report] the disbanding of the Demographics Unit surveillance unit used to spy on the Muslim communities. In February 2014 a judge for the US District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled [JURIST report] that the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims was a lawful effort for national security and did not constitute harm or violation of civil rights. The Muslim Advocates filed [JURIST report] the lawsuit in 2012. In September 2013 former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly admitted [JURIST report] that the NYPD spied on mosques and on a Muslim preacher but requested that the court dismiss the complaint.