Recently, the New York Post reported an unusual sighting.
People are seeing what looks like an NYPD police car because this Ford Taurus is painted nearly identical to those used by the NYPD, right down to the insignia.
But this is not a police car. This car belongs to the newly organized Muslim Community Patrol (MCP).
The group currently operates in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, population 80,000 of mostly white residents.
The Muslim enclave here is known as the “heart of the Arab community.”
— OpsLens (@opslens) January 18, 2019
Other racial, ethnic, religious, or neighborhood communities have similar safety patrol groups, but there are specific concerns with the MCP. One of those concerns is the group’s lack of coordination with the NYPD. Thus, some are concerned not only with their intentions but also with their level of training. While the Brooklyn Asian Safety Patrol (BASP), started in 2014, and the Haredi Shomrim, a Jewish community patrol formed in the 1980s, have a close relationship with the NYPD, the Muslim group apparently does not.
In a statement issued to PJ Media by the police, “the NYPD disavowed any link to the Muslim Community Patrol.” With no association with the police, many fear the group may attempt to enforce religious laws. “Any attempts to enforce Sharia (Islamic law) would not be sanctioned by the police,” NYPD Sergeant Jessica McRorie told PJ Media.
About the patrol car, she also said, “This is not an NYPD vehicle. The NYPD did not outfit or label this vehicle. This group is not officially sanctioned by the NYPD, and they are subject to the law.” Reportedly, the Jewish and Asian groups do have NYPD decals on their vehicles, signaling their cooperation with law enforcement.
The libertarian in me squirms at applying pressure for any community group to obtain government “sanctioning.” But here, it seems prudent that a community group specifically created to report crimes and suspicious circumstances to the police would want to develop a good working relationship with the police. “Officially” sanctioned or otherwise.
Police also say members of a community patrol group do not have the authority to stop and detain people. They are to act as eyes and ears of the community and the NYPD, reporting crimes and suspicious circumstances or behavior via 911. The groups also act as visible deterrents to crime, what some describe as promoting the “broken windows” theory. Inhibiting low-level crimes helps to stop more serious crimes.
These types of community safety patrol groups are not new. Probably the most famous is Curtis Sliwa’s the Guardian Angels. Back in the late ‘90s, I was a part of what I understand to be the first effort in the nation where a police department trained a community safety patrol group to deploy on mountain bikes.
The group was known as the Q-Patrol (the Q stands for queer). This was a gay/lesbian group which patrolled half the time as Guardian Angels and the other half as the Q-Patrol, trading their red berets for, if I remember right, some shade of purple or pink ones. They mostly patrolled the Broadway area of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, which has a significant population of gay residents and businesses.
I found these Q-Patrol/Guardian Angels to be affable, community-oriented young people who genuinely wanted to help keep their neighborhood safe. While their specific mission as the Q-Patrol was to stop the “gay-bashing” they believed was occurring, members, of course, also assisted non-gay people. As with New York’s Jewish and Asian groups, the original Q-Patrol had positive ties to the Seattle Police Department.
It seems the Q-Patrol has recently reformed. Unfortunately, this incarnation has totally forgotten, or more likely doesn’t know, about its predecessor’s relationship with the police department. From a story about the Q-Patrol’s reorganization, the groups said, “We think the police are the problem.”
They’ve obviously adopted the leftist, anti-police myths, which will not enhance their ability to serve their community. It will be a detriment to it.
Now, I’m not sure what motivates the MCP’s aversion to or lack of coordination with the NYPD, but if it’s a result of anti-police sentiment similar to Seattle’s new Q-Patrol, it’s concerning. I understand trust issues being problematic, especially with the onslaught of anti-cop fairytales pushed by the left. But members of the original Q-Patrol were also hesitant before they met us and began training with us.
We learned about them; they learned about us.
Community safety patrols are inherently risky because of their specific function: reporting potential and actual criminal behavior to the police. I found, over the course of my police career, some criminals don’t like the cops very much. No, really. So, they sure don’t like folks who report them to the cops. This is one major reason to maintain a good relationship with the police. Trust goes both ways.
While the MCP does not have an official relationship with the NYPD, posted on their Facebook page is a video of what appears to be a member meeting. At the meeting, a retired NYPD officer and an NYPD Auxiliary Police sergeant address the group.
Both appeared to be members.
According to its website, the Auxiliary Police is an unarmed (no firearms) volunteer branch of the police department trained to assist with traffic control, crowd control, and patrolling areas of the city to deter, observe, and report situations requiring a regular NYPD officer response.
The retired officer and auxiliary sergeant provided valuable information to the group regarding situational awareness while on patrol. They discussed such things as avoiding distractions during patrol and being aware of your location at all times.
From skimming the information available about the group, they seem to provide some valuable services. Aside from safety patrols, they also offer women’s self-defense classes. However, the lack of specific information or coordination with the NYPD still raises concerns.
For example, some fear that since the group has not sought to align itself with the NYPD, it could be so the police will not be as able to interfere with an attempt to enforce Sharia law in Muslim communities. PJ Media states, “Sergeant McRorie’s statement that the MCP is ‘subject to the law’ should serve as a reminder that if this new Islamic force attempts to enforce such harsh versions of Sharia on citizens, authorities will respond. Any ‘creeping Sharia’ that violates local, state, or federal law will not be tolerated.”
Now, the fears may be overblown, misplaced, or even wrong. But concerns about reported (and unreported) enforcement of a version of Sharia law that breaks American law occurring across the country are real. These crimes have happened throughout America, including in New York. Concerns about female genital mutilation, child brides, honor killings, and other abuses are not misplaced.
And the fact the organization hasn’t returned calls for information from media outlets such as the New York Post just adds to the concerns.
As I said, the retired NYPD officer who addressed the group in that meeting posted on Facebook also seems to be a member. On their MCP Facebook page, I believe he is prominently featured in a photo of the members with the acronym M.C.O.P.S. displayed above them.
At the time of this writing, I was unable to decipher the acronym.
It seems to me this retired cop has a special obligation to help establish some sort of working relationship with the police department — for the benefit of his organization as well as for the community.
Community patrols can be great. But there must be reasonable efforts made to coordinate with the local police. When secrecy and evasion accompany the inception of what is supposed to be a community group, what are wary neighbors supposed to think? Members of Jewish and Asian communities and their neighbors who are served by their community patrols are getting what they expect.
People just want to know what Muslim communities, and their neighbors, can expect from the MCP.
Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor and retired Seattle police officer. He has served as a field training officer on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and as a precinct mountain bike coordinator. He has a BA in English language and literature. This OpsLens piece is used by permission.