Neighborhood watch is an essential function of policing to further thwart crime; however, it appears as though in Brooklyn, NY., an additional type of volunteer “watch” has propped up.
Nearly 30 volunteers partake in what is called the Muslim Community Patrol in Brooklyn. The operation is intended to protect Muslims throughout the city specifically. The watch program is entirely self-funded and has their own vehicles which are identical to Police vehicles.
Residents of the neighborhood where the Muslim Community Patrol Cars were spotted were caught off guard by their presence.
The MCP will be the first of its kind across the country, and they hope to expand their operations citywide. The service has gained the support of Brooklyn’s borough president, Eric L. Adams, and Assistant Chief Brian J. Conroy, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South.
Each unarmed patrolman will offer translation services, explain cultural nuances, report suspicious activity, respond to traffic accidents and even help in searches for missing persons.
Essentially, the MCP, to an extent is acting as an additional arm of the police without the consent or legal authority of the police department.
When residents initially noticed the patrol cars, they called the police. The 68th Precinct, serving Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, fielded a flurry of calls from concerned residents after the social media posts, leading police officials to hold an introductory meeting with Muslim Community Patrol members to discuss parameters: Call 911 if they encounter something suspicious, and take no enforcement action on their own. “We expect them to follow the law in general,” a Police Department spokesman said.
There’s one significant problem that could arise; the patrolmen could in essence act in part as religious enforcement for the Quran in the neighborhoods that they service. In some foreign cities, Sharia patrols are known for attacking passersby over non-Muslim clothing, alcohol, or other violations of their law that are not violations of the law of the land. While some have emphatically stated it couldn’t happen in America, the formation of this “Muslim Community Patrol” is a concern to many.
However, in New York the MCP is not the only culture-specific watch group in existence; in fact, there are the Hasidic community patrolmen in Brooklyn’s Borough Park – called the Shomrim Society. In addition, there is also an organization called the Brooklyn Asian Safety Patrol.