But Mr. Ingram, an organizer and activist, was not a terrorism suspect. Officers were looking for him in connection with his participation in a protest, where they said he spoke through a megaphone near a patroller’s ear, causing him temporary hearing loss. He would later be charged with assaulting a police officer – a case that was later dismissed.
The intensity of the police operation was shocking, Mr. Ingram said.
“It was a little silly. I felt like it was a waste of taxpayer money and funds,” Mr. Ingram said. “We created a monster that has kind of always existed. in America, but we have given this monster – because of 9/11, because of other terrorist attacks and other things that have happened – unquestionable and unchecked power. “
Safeguards intended to limit the ability of the police to monitor political activity have been suspended. Thousands of additional cameras and license plate readers have been installed around Manhattan, as part of Lower and Midtown Manhattan safety initiatives.
It was only recently – due to a law passed by city council last summer, to the dismay of police officials – that the extent of the police department’s surveillance net began to become clear. . The law, known as the POST law, requires the ministry to provide a public account of its post-9/11 technology arsenal.
Police officials have been reluctant to fully comply with transparency requirements and have historically kept these expenditures a secret, even from the city’s own comptroller. But according to figures maintained by the city’s independent budget office, the police department’s spending on intelligence and counterterrorism nearly quadrupled between 2006 and 2021, reaching $ 349 million from $ 83 million in 2006, the first year for which the office keeps data.
For a department that was managing entire homes on a single computer at the time of the attacks, the expansion has been staggering, said Raymond W. Kelly, whose second term as commissioner of the New York Police Department began a few months ago. only after the attacks. Mr. Kelly made a frantic and swift effort to bring the ministry up to speed.