By SARA KUGLER
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- Middle Easterners should be targeted for searches on city subways, two elected officials said, contending that police have been wasting time with random checks in efforts to prevent terrorism in the transit system.
The city began examining passengers' bags on subways and buses after the second bomb attack in London two weeks ago. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have said several times that officers will not engage in racial profiling.
But over the weekend, state Assemblyman Dov Hikind said police should be focusing on those who fit the "terrorist profile."
"They all look a certain way," said Hikind, a Democrat from Brooklyn. "It's all very nice to be politically correct here, but we're talking about terrorism."
On Tuesday, Republican City Councilman James Oddo said the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack by Middle Eastern men in hijacked airplanes prompted him to publicly declare his support for Hikind's statements.
"The reality is that there is a group of people who want to kill us and destroy our way of life," he said. "Young Arab fundamentalists are the individuals undertaking these acts of terror, and we should keep those facts prominently in our minds and eyes as we attempt to secure our populace."
Oddo commended Hikind for "rushing headlong against the strong undertow of political correctness."
Hikind said he planned to introduce legislation allowing police to racially profile, and Oddo said he intended to introduce a resolution in the City Council supporting the measure.
The director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Wissam Nasr, said their push for racial profiling is offensive and ignorant.
"Terror comes in all shapes and sizes, and certainly there's no legislation or system that's going to identify terrorists on the spot," Nasr said.
The New York Police Department said in a statement that racial profiling is "illegal, of doubtful effectiveness and against department policy."
The Republican mayor reiterated Tuesday that it is against the law and doesn't work. "I'm against it for fairness reasons, and we're not going to do it," he said.