Mapping plan backfires

According to reporting in the New York Times, in response to accusations of racial profiling the Los Angeles Police Department recently decided to scrap a plan to create a map detailing the Muslim communities in that city.

"In his testimony, to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Mr. Downing said the project would determine the geographic distribution of Muslims in the sprawling Los Angeles area and take 'a look at their history, demographics, language, culture, ethnic breakdown, socioeconomic status and social interactions.' [and] . . . factors like exposure to the puritanical teachings of the Wahhabi sect, instability in countries of origin and where they get their news. He also suggested that the study would result in helping amplify the voice of Muslim moderates who could counter fanatics."

The deputy police chief in charge of the project gets high marks for his community policing efforts, even from those who oppose the plan. However, Peter Bibring, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Southern California, said in an interview, "Police can and should be engaged with the communities they are policing, but that engagement can't be a mask for intelligence gathering."