A Muslim community in New York City has developed an all-volunteer Muslim Community Patrol and Services. It operates out of neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It is a nonprofit organization, not related to a precinct, that was established to patrol neighboring communities, protect the local community from crime, as well as bridge the gaps between the Muslim community and other communities.
Maeen Ali is one of the first 30 members that joined this group. In 2018 a letter circled The U.K. exclaiming that April 3rdwould be “Punish a Muslim Day” and there would awards acts of violence against Muslims. This letter prompted the NYPD to expand patrols in Muslim communities and outside mosques. This prompted Ali to want to protect the Muslim community and be there for his neighbors in a way that the police department couldn’t. He was one of the starters of this community-based program. The officers received police training from off duty officers from the 72nd precinct in NYC.
Starting this patrol force did not come without criticism and backlash. Many questioned why there needs to be such patrol when there already is a police department. Two communities in NYC have similar patrol forces: Shomrim (patrols the Hasidic Jewish community), Brooklyn Asian Safety patrol. The patrol force runs on donations and funds to be able to have official uniforms, police cars, and to be able to serve the community to the best of their ability.
According to the ACLU, from 2002, the NYPD has engaged in racial/ religious profiling and suspicion-less surveillance of Muslims in New York. The NYPD intelligence division has singled out Muslim community leaders, mosques, and student associations among other organization for pointless surveillance unrelated to criminal acts within these neighborhoods. The NYPD’s reasoning for this surveillance has been strictly due to worry that people are being “radicalized” through the Muslim religion and that there is a threat of individuals “turning into” terrorists. This surveillance is unconstitutional and the NYPD has no grounds to illegally target individuals based on religion. After all the First Amendment states that individuals have the freedom of religion. This surveillance in return has put a stigma among Muslims and installed fear in the non-Muslim communities.
In return the Muslim Community Patrol and Services works to erase the stigma and erase the community fear and is working to repair Muslim communities and repair the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims. Their values lie in safety, inclusivity and integrity. They work to build a trust between a police force and its community and through this form of community policing, they are preventing crime as well as providing services such as language classes, self-defense training, and food stamps.