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NYPD program a campaign issue

Potential candidates for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office are taking stands on the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslim students, ranging from cautious support to a warning about curtailing civil liberties.

Bloomberg, who leaves office after the 2013 election, has said he finds "worrisome" the idea that his successor might abandon NYPD policies that have kept New Yorkers safe.

The NYPD used undercover officers and informants to infiltrate Muslim student groups at a dozen colleges in New York City, upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, documents obtained by the Associated Press show. The monitoring, which included the University at Buffalo, was part of the department's anti-terrorism efforts.

But Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said in a statement to the AP over the weekend that "it is troubling when people are subject to surveillance and investigation simply because they are members of a particular group."

However, the Democrat, a declared candidate for mayor, praised the city's police department for an "extraordinary job protecting our city," as long as authorities make sure anti-terrorism efforts "do not trample on the civil liberties that all citizens have a right to enjoy."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday that his department is "continuing to do what we believe necessary to protect the city, pursuant to the law." He did not elaborate.

New York City Comptroller John C. Liu, who is expected to run for mayor, praised "the dedicated men and women of the NYPD" but warned that "we should not as a matter of policy profile people based on religion or race -- it goes against everything this city stands for."

When asked about the NYPD surveillance, media executive Tom Allon didn't hedge.

"I support the tactics that they've used," said Allon, who plans to run as both a Liberal and a Democrat.