Mayor's office: Top cop didn't mention spy program

February 22, 2012 - 8:15 PM
NYPD Intelligernce Chicago

FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2011 file photo, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at his office in Chicago. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, a spokeswoman says Emanuel is against putting Muslims under surveillance as was done in New York and New Jersey by New York police officers. The comments were made after The Associated Press reported that plainclothes NYPD officers took photographs and eavesdropped on conversations inside Muslim businesses in Newark, N.J., while Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy headed the Newark force. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — The former head of Newark's police did not tell Mayor Rahm Emanuel about a secret NYPD operation that spied on Muslims in New Jersey's largest city before Emanuel hired him to lead the Chicago force, the mayor's office said Wednesday.

Emanuel's spokeswoman, Sarah Hamilton, added that while Emanuel does not want the Chicago Police Department to conduct such surveillance, he has no questions about the fitness of Superintendent Garry McCarthy to lead the department.

"He has full confidence in Superintendent McCarthy," Hamilton said.

Hamilton's comments came after The Associated Press reported Wednesday the New York Police Department's secretive Demographics Unit took photos of every mosque in Newark and eavesdropped in Muslim businesses in mid-2007, when McCarthy — a former high ranking NYPD official — was the city's police director.

The findings of that surveillance were cataloged in a 60-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, that served as a police guidebook to Newark's Muslims. There was no mention of terrorism or any criminal wrongdoing in the report.

Early Wednesday, McCarthy told the AP the NYPD notified him as courtesy that it was sending plainclothes officers into Newark, but that none of Newark's police officers participated in the operation. He declined to comment further, and a Chicago police spokeswoman said later in the day he would not answer any additional questions.

Newark authorities who investigated how the NYPD operation was carried out concluded McCarthy received the 60-page report from the NYPD, according to a Newark official. The official, who insisted on anonymity because the inquiry was ongoing, said there was no evidence that McCarthy circulated the report to anyone else.

McCarthy's predecessor in Chicago, former Superintendent Jody Weis, said Wednesday the Chicago police did not have such a program when he headed the department from 2008 to 2011. Melissa Stratton, a department spokeswoman, said no such program currently exists.

"We have no plans to do that," Stratton added.

Ahmed Rehab, the leader of a Muslim civil rights organization in Chicago, said McCarthy needed to explain with greater detail his position on the NYPD's surveillance program.

"We want to know, 'Should we be concerned about this happening in Chicago?' And if the answer is no, we need him to come out and say this was wrong," said Rehab, executive director of CAIR Chicago.

Hamilton said Emanuel was in Washington meeting with government officials on Wednesday and was not available to comment directly.

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Associated Press writer Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report from Washington.