BY TOM HESTER SR.
Former governor Richard J. Codey Friday said he never authorized New York City police to conduct covert surveillance of Islamic Americans in Newark in 2007.
Codey, who is a Democratic state senator from Essex County, said two executive orders he signed as governor only allowed New York police to ride trains and ferries within New Jersey boundaries
“Executive Orders 43 and 44 that I signed while governor explicitly stated that any operation by New York law enforcement was authorized only on our railroad right-of-ways and ferry terminals,” Codey said. “These were signed amid the backdrop of the then-recent horrific London train bombings. My priority, as governor at the time, was to protect our citizens and without these executive orders, the NYPD, by law, was required to exit all trains and ferries before entering New Jersey.
“These executive orders, considering the times, were common sense measures to allow for increased collaboration between our two states and provide greater security to our citizens by permitting the NYPD to remain on our trains and ferries when intelligence deemed it necessary,” Codey said. “These executive orders accomplished that and I would do it again today, tomorrow or any other time in the future to protect the citizens of New Jersey.
Codey added, “Any operation that was conducted beyond the limited scope of the railroads and ferries that I authorized clearly violates these executive orders. To be clear, nothing in them talks about any race or religion and there is no inference to profiling. You would always expect to be notified by another state’s law enforcement if they are conducting operations in your state. There is a disagreement between the NYPD and Newark on that issue. However, that still does not take away from the fact that any operation that went beyond the railroad right-of-ways and ferry terminals violated the intent of these executive orders.”
In 2007, New York police conducted wide surveillance of mosques, Islamic centers, shops, restaurants associated with the Islamic community in Newark.
On Friday, Muslim leaders, business people, and students from throughout North Jersey gathered outside the Paul Robeson Center on the Rutgers-Newark campus to protest the surveillance. They compared the surveillance to tactics employed by the Nazi in the 1930s and 1940s.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is defending the actions of the police.
“We just cannot let our guard down again,” Bloomberg said during a radio interview. “We cannot slacken our vigilance. The threat was real. The threat is real. The threat is not going away.” The mayor added, “Everything the New York City Police Department has done is legal, it is appropriate. They are permitted to travel beyond the borders of New York City.”