Members of the New York Police Department in New York City.
Credit: Spencer Platt

NEW YORK -- In his weekly radio show on Friday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended New York Police Department surveillance programs targeted at Muslim communities that have recently come to light, the Associated Press reported.

Bloomberg argued it is "legal," "appropriate" and "constitutional" for police to monitor Muslim communities since they are potential places where terrorists might hide out while they prepare attacks against American citizens, the AP reported.

He said the New York police will continue to follow "leads and threats wherever they come from," including in other states. Earlier in the week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker sharply criticized the news that New York police officers had launched a secret program in 2007 to track catalog Muslim-owned businesses and photograph every mosque in Newark, the Boston Globe reported.

More from GlobalPost: NYPD: No apologies for monitoring Muslims

“We are not going to repeat the mistakes that we made after the 1993 bombing,’’ Bloomberg said, according to the Boston Globe. “We just cannot let our guard down again. We cannot slack in our vigilance. The threat was real. The threat is real. The threat is not going away.’’

The AP notes:

With about 1,000 officers dedicated to intelligence and counterterrorism, the New York Police Department has one of the most aggressive domestic intelligence operations in the country.

Meanwhile, criticism of the NYPD’s actions continued to grow.

“While we appreciate the daunting responsibility of keeping New York safe, law enforcement officials should not be conducting such surveillance of a particular group of students or citizens without any cause to suspect criminal conduct,” Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, a First Amendment scholar, said Friday in a statement to Columbia staff and students.

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