The mayor will appoint an independent civilian to monitor the New York Police Department's counterterrorism activities, lawyers said in court documents on Thursday as they moved to settle a pair of lawsuits over surveillance targeting Muslims in the decade after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The agreement would restore some of the outside oversight that was eliminated after the attacks, when city leaders said they needed more flexibility in conducting investigations. In the years that followed, the Police Department secretly built files on Muslim neighborhoods, recorded sermons at mosques, collected license plates of worshipers and documented the views of everyday people on topics such as drone strikes, politics and foreign policy.
The settlement does not explicitly prohibit any methods that are currently allowed, and the city does not admit any wrongdoing. Police officials said many of the provisions of the agreement — such as barring investigations based solely on religion, race and ethnicity — simply codified changes already in place. But civil rights lawyers said some tactics that investigators used over the past decade violated the Constitution and would probably not have been allowed if anyone outside the Police Department had been reviewing the investigative files.