NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The disclosure of the NYPD's expanded surveillance of Muslims prompted criticism for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Some politicians and law enforcement officials critiqued the program. But a new poll finds a broad majority of voters support the practice.
The poll by Quinnipiac University shows that voters say the police act appropriately in dealing with Muslims 58-29 percent. Voters approve of the way the NYPD is doing its job by a two-to-one ratio according to the poll: 63-31 percent. And 82 percent say the NYPD has been effective in combating terrorism.
Kelly enjoys a 64-25 percent approval rating whereas Bloomberg is at 54-35 percent. That rating is up from 46-42 back in February.
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"New Yorkers brush aside the gripes about police surveillance of the Muslim community," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Voter approval of the way police are handling terrorism is through the roof and overall approval for police in general and for Commissioner Ray Kelly is undented by criticism."
To read the complete poll, click here.
The poll may offer some reassurance to Kelly and Bloomberg who have recently been publicly criticized for the surveillance program. The most recent criticism has come from authorities and politicians in New Jersey over the manner in which the NYPD has operated there.
"This is New York Police Department. I know they think their jurisdiction is the world. Their jurisdiction is New York City. So if they're going to leave their jurisdiction and go to investigate a case in another jurisdiction, it could be dangerous," said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on March 1st. "This is the way law enforcement people get hurt or killed, is when they're not cooperating with each other, not communicating with each other."
"It's starting to have a negative impact. When people pull back cooperation it creates additional risks. It creates blind spots. It hinders our ability to have our finger on the pulse of what's going on around the state," FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge Michael Ward said last week.
"Anything we've done in New Jersey, we have done under an agreement with the state of New Jersey that was signed by a previous governor, and still remains in effect," Bloomberg said.
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Meanwhile, some two dozen religious leaders on Tuesday urged Mayor Bloomberg to launch an investigation into the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims.
"We feel that these activities are a crisis. The people of faith throughout this city, and really throughout this land, are deeply opposed to this transgression of human rights," said Pastor Stephen Phelps of Riverside Church.
Phelps called the spying racial profiling, a form of terrorism.
"Increasingly Mayor Bloomberg and commissioner Kelly are acting more like rulers than public servants," said Imam Talib 'Abdur-Rashid, who heads the Islamic Leadership Council of New York.
He says it erodes Muslims' trust in the NYPD.
"We too seek the peace, safety, and security of our city," he said.
The leaders also called for an end to the NYPD's controversal stop-and-frisk program.
"The practice of racial profiling and of stopping and frisking works the same as terrorism works," said Phelps.
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