A New Brunswick, N.J. 911 audiotape reveals the manner through which one of the NYPD’s illegal out of town surveillance operations was uncovered, as the superintendent of an apartment complex called to report an inspection revealed a “suspicious” dwelling which turned out to be a police safehouse.
The complex was just off the campus of Rutgers University and the apartment in question was decidedly suspicious: no furniture, full of terrorist literature and surveillance equipment. The caller thought he had uncovered a terrorist hideout.
Turns out it was one of several “safehouses” at which NYPD spies run schemes to spy on “political organizers” and built databases of Muslims living in areas near New York City. The call led to a raid by New Brunswick police and later the FBI, which seized the gear.
The NYPD was eventually forced to cop to it, and asked the FBI to return their equipment. They had been pressuring the New Brunswick police not to allow the 911 audiotape to be released to the media.
The NYPD has defended the surveillance as “legal,” saying that the police weren’t “acting as police” when they were spying on Muslims outside of the city, and that therefore anything they did was legal. Mayor Bloomberg insisted the NYPD has a right to go “anywhere in the country” looking for terrorists.