In June of 2009, a superintendent of a building not far from the Rutgers University campus called the 911 line for the New Brunswick Police. The superintendent told the 911 dispatcher that he and the staff were performing a routine check and that they found something suspicious. The dispatcher asked, “What’s suspicious?” The superintendent then responded with, “Suspicious in the sense that the apartment has about — has no furniture except two beds, has no clothing, has New York City Police Department radios.”
“Really?” the dispatcher asked.
Salil Sheth was the caller that day and he had come across a major secret of the NYPD. That secret was the operation of a safe house in New Jersey. Undercover officers are able to work outside of their jurisdiction in the safe house. Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the NYPD has received training and assistance from the CIA to monitor Muslims in and around the city. NYPD detectives, since the attacks, have been able to listen to conversations at coffee houses, infiltrated mosques and even followed Muslin student groups.
“There’s computer hardware, software, you know, just laying around,” the caller to dispatch said. “There’s pictures of terrorists. There’s pictures of our neighboring building that they have.”
“In New Brunswick?” the dispatcher asked.
The audio tape was released by the NYPD after the Associated Press sued. Also released this week were emails that talked about the efforts to keep the tape secret. Both the FBI and the New Brunswick Police Department rushed to the apartment because of the 911 call. It turns out that neither agency knew that the NYPD was holed up in the apartment building. The NYPD has traveled as far out of its jurisdiction as New Orleans in an effort to investigate and keep tabs on liberal advocacy groups.
Andrew Schaffer, the deputy commissioner for legal matters for the NYPD, said, “They’re not acting as police officers in other jurisdictions.”
The NYPD did not say that its officers were not acting as police during the use of the apartment when trying to keep the 911 tape secret. Assistant Chief Thomas Galati wrote the following in a letter sent to New Brunswick: “Such identification will place the safety of any officers identified, as well as the undercover operatives with whom they work, at risk.” The city released the name discussed in the letter for safety.
The dispatcher on the call asks, “And pictures of our neighboring buildings?”
“Yes, the Matrix building,” Sheth replied. “There’s pictures of terrorists. There’s literature on the Muslim religion.”