Broken Windows Rides Again

The Commish and Kelling are re-estabishing the order maintenance strategy that, with Compstat, restored safety and confidence in the subway in the early 1990’s.  In the Transit Police, then a separate department in NYC,  Bill Bratton, George Kelling, Jack Maple and John Linder combined their great brains and developed the prevention strategy that would land Bratton on the cover of Time later in the decade.

Arrests of Panhandlers and Peddlers on Subways Triple Under Bratton

NY Times, March 7, 2014 — The New York Police Department, under the leadership of a new commissioner who cut his teeth in the city tackling subway crime, has already begun ramping up arrests of panhandlers and peddlers in the transit system, according to newly available department statistics.

In the first two months of the year, arrests of peddlers and panhandlers on subways have more than tripled over the same period last year, with the police recording 274 such arrests as of March 2. By this point last year, they had made 90 such arrests.

The figures represent some of the sharpest increases in enforcement seen under the commissioner, William J. Bratton, who took office in January amid a general decline in arrests, summonses and stops. Much of that decline was the result of a drastic falloff in officers’ stopping and frisking people on the street, amid a deepening controversy over excessive use of such tactics by the police.

Under the new administration, the police continue to make fewer arrests and write fewer summonses, so the increase in the arrests of peddlers and panhandlers is particularly striking.

Police statistics also indicate a noticeable spike in arrests for low-level violations in public housing developments. On New York City Housing Authority property, arrests for felonies are down nearly 5 percent and arrests for misdemeanors are nearly flat. But arrests for violations — a category that includes drinking beer in public and riding a bike on the sidewalk — has increased by more than 21 percent.

The availability of such statistics for public review represents a degree of transparency that did not exist under the previous police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, whose staff provided reporters more limited access to crime and enforcement data relating to housing projects and the subway system.

The new data also provides an indication of just how rarely the police are stopping and frisking people for behavior deemed suspicious. In the transit system so far this year, police officers recorded making 353 such stops, compared with 5,983 last year. The decrease is extraordinary given that 2013 saw the lowest number of street stops in a decade.

So far this year, murders are down 18.5 percent through March 2 compared with the same period last year. Robberies are also down, although there is a slight increase in felony assaults.

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RECENT COMMENTS

A. Taxpayer 2 hours ago
This is an important issue in preventing crime in NYC?
Chilena 6 hours ago
I don’t see the analogy between arresting turnstile-jumpers and arresting subway performers and peddlers. The turnstile-jumpers were…
AB 6 hours ago
This is a timely and appropriate response to a condition that has gotten out of control. In the subways, on narrow, crowded platforms and…
SEE ALL COMMENTS WRITE A COMMENT
Mr. Bratton has announced that he intends for the police to aggressively pursue low-level infractions and misdemeanors, both to maintain order but also because such encounters can lead to the capture of career criminals. “If you take care of the little things, then you can prevent a lot of the big things,” he said this week, summarizing a core tenet of his policing strategy.

As chief of the city’s transit police in 1990, Mr. Bratton put in place a strategy of pursuing turnstile-jumping and other low-level offenses in the subways. He found that many of the people arrested were wanted for more serious crimes and some were found to be carrying weapons. He credits the approach as the first step in turning the tide in a city plagued by crime.

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COMMENTS
The statistics show that arrests for fare evasion in the subway are down 4.5 percent year to date, a period that covers Mr. Bratton’s time in office, when compared against the same period last year.

Russell S. Novack, a Legal Aid lawyer who represents low-level offenders in court in Midtown Manhattan, said that some of those arrested in the subway system “don’t all fit the profile of the homeless panhandler.”

“In recent weeks,” Mr. Novack said, “I represented a woman arrested for selling churros in the subway system,” as well as a steady stream of people who were arrested after asking passers-by for MetroCard swipes so they could pass through the subway turnstiles.

A version of this article appears in print on March 7, 2014, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Arrests of Panhandlers and Peddlers on Subways Triple Under Bratton. Order Reprints|Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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About stephenomeara

My name is Jim Jordan. I have had the privilege of working with the Boston Police Department and hundreds more departments over my nearly 30-year career in police administration and city government. I am now teaching and consulting independently at www.sergeantsleadership.org. I have learned the best of what I know from the thousands of smart, dedicated and ethical police personnel and scholars who have guided me along the way. My address is named for the great Reform commissioner of the Boston Police at the turn of the 20th century. Commissioner O'Meara died just a short while before the Strike in 1919. He was replaced by a vicious puppet (of Gov. Coolidge) named Edwin U. Curtis. Had O'Meara lived events may have turned out quite differently.
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One Response to Broken Windows Rides Again

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