Amid Muslim flap, New York police chief high in polls

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 13, 2012 10:28 AM
Amid Muslim flap, New York police chief high in polls

By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly won better than 2-to-1 approval ratings in a poll released on Tuesday as voters said police act appropriately in how they deal with Muslims by a margin of 58 percent to 29 percent.

The Quinnipiac University poll taken March 6-11 followed a number of controversies in recent months involving the New York Police Department, which has come under scrutiny since a news report last year that the CIA was helping police gather intelligence from mosques and minority neighborhoods.

Police have also been caught in a ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx, manipulating crime statistics in Brooklyn and misinforming the public about how often an anti-Muslim documentary, since disavowed, was shown to police officers.

The Associated Press last August reported that undercover New York Police Department officers known as "rakers" were sent into minority neighborhoods to monitor bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs, and police used informants known as "mosque crawlers" to monitor sermons.

Still, voters gave high marks to Kelly, especially for the department's aggressive anti-terrorism strategy.

The poll of 964 New York City voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent, found respondents approved by 63 percent to 31 the way New York police are doing their job and said by 82 percent to 14 percent the NYPD has been effective combating terrorism.

Kelly himself won an approval rating of 64 percent to 25 percent, which fell within the normal range for him. Kelly's all-time high Quinnipiac rating of 71 percent came in May 2011 and his all-time low of 52 percent came in January 2007.

"New Yorkers brush aside the gripes about police surveillance of the Muslim community. Voter approval of the way police are handling terrorism is through the roof and overall approval for police in general and for Commissioner Ray Kelly is undented by criticism," Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

(Reporting By Daniel Trotta; editing by Dan Burns)