CAIRO - A leading Muslim figure in New York's Bronx borough has formed a citizen patrol to improve community relations between religious minority groups and police officers.
The problem is not the police. Politicians and other groups blame the police rather than take action, Sheikh Moussa Drammeh of Parkchester told NY Daily News.
It is easier to just say stop and frisk is bad, rather than go out on the streets and promote peace.
The volunteer neighborhood watch group, dubbed Community Peace Patrol Officers, was created by Drammeh to improve community relations in the Bronx.
He suggested the group to mend relations between minority groups and cops in the borough and avoid rallies in the wake of violent acts.
Proposing his plans, Drammeh handed out leaflets about the patrol at the Parkchester subway station, while Transit cops were doing random bag searches.
Dividing the borough into five zones and assigning local leaders as captains, Drammeh plans to offer Bronx youth, who may be skeptical of the police, an alternative resource for safety or counseling.
The idea was similar to the citizen patrols seen in Brooklyn's Jewish neighborhoods such as Crown Heights and Borough Park.
He wrote to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly about his proposal, and NYPD Community Affairs officers have reached out to him.
Drammeh plans on meeting with commanding officers from various precincts and to gain corporate sponsorship to purchase patrol vehicles.
We want to make our presence known in the community, 50-year-old Drammeh said.
We want people to know that there are people here that are looking out for them. We will help them, listen to them, and point them in the right direction.
Improve Police Image
Drammeh, the principal of the Islamic Leadership School in Parkchester, said the new patrol would not replace the work of police officers in the Bronx borough.
We will never interfere with law enforcement, Drammeh said emphatically.
We are not law enforcement.
The new patrol, however, will try to improve relations between religious minorities and the law enforcement body.
But we can create a better relationship between all parties, and hopefully make the Bronx safer, Drammeh said.
Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
Anger has grown against the New York police following reports that the NYPD used undercover agents to spy on Muslim communities.
A report by the Associated Press said that the NYPD sent out undercover officers into ethnic communities to track daily life and monitor mosques as well as Muslim student organizations.
However, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the practice, saying it does not take religion into account in its policing.
Police commissioner Raymond W. Kelly also denied targeting Muslims in its policing, saying it only followed leads.
In 2011, the New York University's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice issued a report criticizing the tactic of US law enforcement agencies in sending paid informants into mosques to instigate and trap Muslims into terror plots.
The report, themed Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the Homegrown Threat', cited three high-profile domestic terrorism prosecutions which raised question marks about the role of the FBI and the NYPD in creating the perception of homegrown terrorism.