Since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the New York Police Department has become one of America’s most aggressive gatherers of domestic intelligence, says NPR. Its intelligence unit, directed by a retired CIA veteran, dispatches undercover officers to keep tabs on ethnic neighborhoods — sometimes in areas far outside their jurisdiction.
An investigation by the Associated Press uncovered new details about how the unit, led by Deputy Commissioner David Cohen, works. “The lesson of 9/11 to the NYPD was, ‘We can’t just can’t sit back and let the federal government tell us how to keep us safe or what intelligence we need to know or who might be after us,'” AP reporter Matt Apuzzo tells NPR. “We need to take responsibility for this ourselves, and we’re going to go to wherever we need to go to get this information.”