The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today offered mosques and other Muslim institutions a model "Law Enforcement Engagement Policy."
According to CAIR, revelations by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of intelligence gathering by FBI at "outreach" events prompted the issuance of the policy suggestions.
CAIR also offered questions that community leadership can and should ask of law enforcement agents who are conducting community outreach.
The model policy is intended to ensure that Muslims play an appropriate role in preventing criminal activity in their neighborhoods, while ensuring that congregants are protected from possible abusive law enforcement practices.
"CAIR is committed to upholding longstanding constitutional and legal limits on overly-broad law enforcement efforts that target ethnic or religious minorities," said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor. "Equally, we believe it is the civic and religious duty of every American Muslim to work with law enforcement to protect our nation."
Saylor added: "President Reagan's signature phrase, 'Trust, but verify,' is an excellent principle for our community's relations with law enforcement. One can never overstate the positive contributions of law enforcement, but we must always remain vigilant for individuals, policies or practices that cross legal or constitutional boundaries."
CAIR's Model Law Enforcement Engagement Policy is as follows:
a. This policy outlines our position regarding law enforcement community outreach efforts. Islamic tradition and belief require Muslims to be a benefit to humanity and to prevent harm to humanity. In part, this tradition and belief is expressed by this facility and its leadership believing that it is both a religious and civic obligation to contribute to crime prevention and public safety efforts.
a. No matter what the state of our relationship with law enforcement is, it is our religious and civic duty to contribute to crime prevention and public safety efforts in our community.
b. This [masjid, Islamic center, community center] believes strongly in the Constitution and its legal protections. Community outreach with law enforcement is for the purpose of enhancing mutual understanding, building strong relationships and informing our congregants of the services provided by law enforcement. Community outreach is not an intelligence collection tool.
c. Each law enforcement agent (LEA) who engages with our facility will be asked to adhere to the following guidelines:
i. When you enter our facility or engage with our leadership or congregants for outreach purposes, you are representing to us that you are not engaged in intelligence collection.
ii. When you enter our facility, please inform management.
iii. When you enter our facility, please have official business cards available on request.
iv. When you enter our facility or engage with our leadership or congregants for outreach purposes, you are representing to us that you will not create intelligence files based on your visit. This means that, without the explicit agreement of the individuals concerned, you will not record their demographic information or their political or religious beliefs or affiliations. You will also not record license plates or anything else of that nature.
v. Any notes and contact information generated from an outreach meeting with this facility should be kept separate from operational and intelligence databases.
3. As long as the leadership of this facility receives reasonable assurances that the above guidelines will be honored, we will engage in community outreach programs with law enforcement agents that contribute to crime prevention and public safety.
a. Examples of these programs are citizen's academies, citizen observer programs, town halls and crime-stoppers.
Questions leadership of mosques and other Muslim institutions can and should ask:
1. What is the purpose of doing outreach to this mosque?
2. Are community institutions and houses of worship for other faiths in the area being assigned the same level of outreach? If not, why not?
3. Do you report only to your community outreach department? If not, to what other components of your agency do you report?
CAIR is billed as America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its stated mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
"CAIR Offers Mosques Model Policy on Law Enforcement Outreach" PR Newswire March 28, 2012
"Model Policy on Law Enforcement Outreach" Sacramento Bee March 28, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today