[B]efore NYPD can begin investigating political activity – which could include surveillance within a mosque, church, or synagogue – it must articulate, in writing, the objective basis of need for the investigation and must secure approvals from senior NYPD officials. Further, permission is not open-ended; rather, it runs for a certain period of time, at the end of which NYPD must apply for (and justify) an extension or otherwise end the investigation. The thresholds for obtaining and extending permission in this area are not particularly high. The rules were amended after September 11, 2001, to accommodate the increased threat to the City.
OIG-NYPD’s investigation found that NYPD, while able to articulate a valid basis for commencing investigations, was often non-compliant with a number of the rules governing the conduct of these investigations.VICE News discusses the NYPD report.