The American Civil Liberties Unions of Connecticut and Pennsylvania are seeking investigations on NYPD practices in those states, including at Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania. An NYPD report also described surveillance in Newark, on which Christie said he doesn't recall being briefed even though he was then the U.S. attorney for the state.
"I understand we need people doing covert surveillance to protect the people of our state and our region," Christie said Wednesday on Townsquare Media's "Ask the Governor" program. "No problems with that. My concern is, Why can't you communicate with the people here in New Jersey, with law enforcement here in New Jersey? Are we somehow not trustworthy?"
He said he didn't know whether the surveillance program was "born out of arrogance, or out of paranoia, or out of both."
"I had federal jurisdiction. I could go anywhere. They are the New York Police Department. I know they think that their jurisdiction is the world. Their jurisdiction is New York City," he said.
"My concern is this kind of affectation that the NYPD seems to have that they are the masters of the universe," Christie said.
In 2007, the NYPD's secretive Demographics Unit fanned out across Newark, photographing every mosque and eavesdropping on Muslim businesses. The findings were cataloged in a 60-page report, obtained by the AP, that served as a police guidebook to Newark's Muslims. There was no mention of terrorism or any criminal wrongdoing.
Newark's top officials said their police were asked to show NYPD officers around but didn't know about the nature and scope of the NYPD operation.
While stressing in his radio comments that he had no problem with "covert surveillance," Christie didn't say whether he thought it was appropriate to target certain communities as a preventive measure when there was no suspected wrongdoing.
The NYPD said it informed Newark officials, a liaison was assigned and Newark police were briefed before and afterward. New York City officials have been unapologetic.
Andrew Schaffer, Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters, said NYPD officers weren't acting as police officers from another jurisdiction.
"They don't exercise police power, they don't make arrests, they don't conduct searches, they don't execute search warrants. That is beyond our power outside of our defined jurisdiction," Schaffer said. "But there's no prohibition on traveling to, residing in, or investigating within the United States."
Associated Press writers Beth DeFalco in Trenton, Samantha Gross and Colleen Long in New York, and Samantha Henry in Newark contributed to this report.
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