The groups worried that people entered into the database for completely innocent activities could have their lives altered because of the program’s wide reach. “A SAR filed regarding an individual who engaged in photography could, under LAPD’s policy, be shared via the federal government with law enforcement agencies across the country, and might potentially affect the subject’s ability to travel freely or obtain government jobs,” the letter warned.
MPAC also praised Los Angeles law enforcement for being receptive to the organization’s concerns about intelligence and surveillance activities within Muslim-American communities.
“The police and sheriffs departments in the Los Angeles area have been trend-setters in the nation for community-oriented policing partnerships with American Muslim communities,” said Alejandro Beutel, MPAC’s policy and legislative analyst. “LA's approach stands as an effective alternative to the New York Police Department whose behavior treats our communities as suspects rather than partners.”
Over the last year, the NYPD has come under fire for engaging in controversial, and potentially unconstitutional, surveillance activities, including spying on Muslim-American and Middle Eastern neighborhoods, as well as infiltrating Muslim student groups, not just in the city, but on college campuses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the Associated Press revealed in a major investigative series.
Beyond reforming when police officers can write up a SAR, MPAC reports Downing agreed to adjust SAR processes to ferret out racial and ethnic profiling as well as said the LAPD was open to the establishment of a community advisory board for the program.
* Updated with comments from Deputy Chief Downing at 2:55 p.m
♦ Photo by EsotericSapience/Flickr