5:27 pm Mar. 15, 20121
The New York Police Department conducts "information gathering," not "investigations," overseas, at a cost of about $1 million annually, paid with private funds from the New York City Police Foundation, according to police commissioner Ray Kelly.
His two-hour testimony before the City Council's Public Safety Committee today about the department's crime-fighting and surveillance operations went from informative to combative.
Kelly declined to say how much the NYPD spends on U.S.-based surveillance, saying it's paid through a mix of city and federal dollars and is not singled out as a unique expense in the department's fiscal records.
"We don't have a discreet budget line for those types of investigations," Kelly said. "It's in our general budget but also you also see it, sometimes, in the overtime for investigations."
He also said, "Some of it is in there and some of it is federal money."
When asked how the NYPD pays for its overseas investigations, Kelly said, before the questioner had even finished, "We don't do any investigations outside the county. We simply do not do investigations in that context."
Kelly spent just over an hour fielding questions about the department's use of the stop-and-frisk tactic and about its undercover surveillance program which has targeted Muslim organizations and individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism.
Kelly responded in part by chiding the council members for not doing more themselves to fight crime, and said that none of them produced ideas on reducing violence, leaving that job up to him.
After Kelly said the NYPD spent about $17 million responding to the Occupy Wall Street protests earlier this year, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez asked how much of that was spent "on undercover operations to infiltrate that movement."
"I don't have that number," Kelly said. "I don't have those kind of things. We don't keep that sort of thing."
"You don't keep the figure, but we have spent money infiltrating the movement?" Rodriguez responded.
"We gather information," said Kelly. "Much of the information we gather is from the Internet. People publicly put out what they're going to do."
Later, Kelly said that "communities of color" lacked "leadership" to articulate a crime-prevention strategy, leaving his department to do so.
Melissa Mark-Viverito, of East Harlem, asked Kelly whether he was concerned about a recent poll showing a nearly 20 percentage-point gap between the levels of support expressed by whites and African-Americans of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk and surveillance operations.
"And if you don't say you are, I would be very concerned as a citizen in this city," she said.
"Let me tell you what should also be of concern to you," Kelly said. "96 percent of the shooting victims in this city are people of color. 90 percent of the murder victims are people of color."
"What I haven't heard," Kelly said later, "is any solution to the violence problem in these communities. People are upset about being stopped, yet what is the answer? What have you said about how we stop this violence?"
"What do leaders of the communities of color say?" Kelly said. "What is their tactic and strategy to get guns off the street? Don't tell me 'a gun buy-back program.'"
Kelly also said, "I'm waiting for leadership in these communities [to] say something about how we stop the violence."
Kelly finished his exchange with Viverito, saying, "I don't understand what your point is."
Robert Jackson, a three-term Democrat from Harlem and the only Muslim on the Council, raised concerns about an inaccurate statement by the department's top spokesman, Paul Browne, about Kelly's appearance in an inflammatory film about Islam and terrorism called "The Third Jihad."
Kelly, waving his hand and turning away, said, "I won't even bother."
"That's the type of negative attitude ... " Jackson began, before he and Kelly began pointing fingers and speaking over one another.