The Daily Q: What rules govern the NYPD when it operates outside of New York City?

What rules govern the NYPD when it operates outside of New York City?

In the past few days, the Associated Press has published two reports detailing aggressive surveillance of Muslims by the New York Police Department. One of the most notable aspects of this surveillance is where it took place: on college campuses across the Northeast and in mosques in Newark, New Jersey. The programs were kept secret from local authorities, with the colleges’ presidents and even the mayor of Newark kept out of the loop.

At the New York World, we asked experts in NYPD practices and constitutional law to answer a major question raised by the AP’s investigation: What rules govern the NYPD when it operates outside of New York City?


Dr. Maria Haberfeld

Chair of the Department of Law, Police Science & Criminal Justice Administration
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The New York City Police Department is a local, municipal police department within the State of New York. As such its jurisdictional authority is limited to enforcing the law within the limits of New York City. From the operational standpoint, it can reach out to other jurisdictions to ask for assistance or cooperation and/or participate in joint task force units that encompass a number of jurisdictions however, this is done with the explicit consent and knowledge of the given jurisdiction be it state, federal, other local or even a foreign country. NYPD officers operating outside their jurisdiction, without an explicit consent  and knowledge of the other jurisdiction, have no police or enforcement powers within the given jurisdiction and act as civilians.

“Policing by religion” is unethical and dangerous and has no place in any democratic police organization.


The Brennan Center

Statement provided by Brennan Center spokesman Erik Opsal

Today the Associated Press reports that the New York City Police Department conducted surveillance and monitoring of Muslim communities in Newark, New Jersey. In some instances, the NYPD is able to operate outside the borders of the city and the state in accordance with a formal interagency agreement that delineates responsibilities and liabilities. For example, when NYPD officers work alongside federal agents as part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, they are deputized as federal marshals in order to allow them to operate nationally. However, whether this multi-state surveillance of innocent people was part of such an agreement is unclear, and once again highlights the need for independent and robust oversight of the NYPD.

The Brennan Center has called for an inspector general for the NYPD. An inspector general would ensure that the police only operated outside of their jurisdiction subject to properly concluded and vetted arrangements and would have the ability to investigate operations like the one in Newark.


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