NEW YORK — The New York Police Department’s new policy, in response to the July terrorist bombings in London, of randomly searching the bags of anyone on the subway, has brought turmoil to the city.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a lawsuit Aug. 4, charging what much of the public already says: the policy is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, and will ultimately do nothing to prevent terrorism.

At the other end of the spectrum, certain politicians are calling for new laws legalizing racial profiling. While many people are generally unhappy with what is considered to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment, there is the additional fear of racial profiling.

“Although the NYPD claims that they are conducting searches that are purely random, the large number of people entering the transit system and the lack of control over that traffic result in people being selected for search in a discretionary and arbitrary manner,” said a statement on the NYCLU web site.

A group of City Council members asked the NYPD to begin tracking the race of people searched, so that an effective study could be done to determine whether or not racial profiling was taking place, but Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has refused.

City Councilmember James Oddo (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) and State Assembly member Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) have joined together calling for a new law that would allow police to pick people based on their racial or ethnic background. Hikind said that he would press for a new law at the state level, while Oddo vowed to push for a City Council resolution.

Both politicians argue that Arabs should be specifically targeted for searches. “There is a terrorist profile …” Hikind said. “They all look a certain way.”

Oddo told the press, “The reality is that there is a group of people who want to kill us and destroy our way of life. 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.”

While such sentiments represent a small minority of the population, many see the simple fact that such opinions could be expressed openly as a dangerous sign.

Chris Owens, who is running for Congress in the 13th District in Brooklyn, tore into Hikind. “Assemblyman Hikind now wants to make ‘guilty until proven innocent’ the new law of the land and, to make matters worse, Mr. Hikind wants guilt to be based upon skin color, facial hair and fashion.”

“Right here in Brooklyn, we have already witnessed many of our Pakistani neighbors swept up and detained without charges and without legal counsel in violation of America’s Constitution,” Owens said. “Good people cannot remain silent when irresponsible language is used. If we ignore abuses of the legal system as applied to a particular ethnic group today, we are ensuring that such abuses will be incorporated into our system and used against all of us.”

Owens nearly lost his wife and son on Sept. 11, 2001, in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

The NYCLU lawsuit takes the fight a step further by calling for the city to stop all of the searches. The group argues that it is a violation of a person’s constitutional rights to bar them from using a city’s transit system if they refuse to be searched.

Donna Liberman, NYCLU executive director, said in a statement posted on the NYCLU web site, “Our very real concerns about terrorism do not justify the NYPD subjecting millions of innocent people to suspicion-less searches in a way that does not identify any person seeking to engage in terrorist activity and is unlikely to have any meaningful deterrent effect on terrorist activity.”

“We have no objection to reasonable searches, but we cannot and will not stand by while the police department seeks to expunge the Fourth Amendment from the Constitution,” said Christopher Dunn, lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

In addition to a fear of further erosion of constitutional and civil rights since Sept. 11, most agree that the policy will have a very limited effect in stopping terrorism: any terrorist, they say, could refuse to be searched and then walk to another subway station, where they would then get on a train and perform the same terrorist act.