But while the NYPD’s spying program has faced criticism, a new poll released today by Quinnipiac University finds that only 29 percent of New York City voters think the police have unfairly targeted Muslims to combat terrorism. Fifty-eight percent think the NYPD’s behavior has been appropriate and 13 percent didn’t know or had no answer. The poll did not ask voters specifically about the Muslim monitoring program.
The NYPD, which has enjoyed broad community support since September 11, 2001, receives high marks for its anti-terrorism work. Eighty-two percent of NYC voters think the police department has been effective in combating terrorism, a 5 percent increase since a February 9 poll conducted days after the scandal was first reported by the Associated Press.
Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) called for an investigation into the reported use of White House funds by the NYPD for its “religious and racial profiling activities.” But while reports on the NYPD’s spying on Muslim communities in the NYC area got widespread pickup in national and international news media, New York voters appear unlikely to hold public officials responsible.
The poll found that NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — the city official ultimately responsible for overseeing the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims — has a 64 percent approval rating and 28 percent of voters would be more likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who promises to ask Kelly to continue as police commissioner. Nineteen percent of voters would be less likely to vote for such a candidate.
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, like Kelly, has refused to apologize for the surveillance program, enjoys a 67 – 27 percent approval rating for the way he is handling crime.