Traffic scofflaws on the Upper West Side are receiving far fewer tickets from local precincts compared to the same pre-pandemic period, according to NYPD data on moving violation summonses.
During November-January, the 20th Precinct wrote 68% fewer tickets and the 24th Precinct issued 53% fewer, compared to those same three months in 2019-20. This is an even steeper decline than a similar comparison last fall where the 20th was down 37% and the 24th was down 34%. The most recent UWS drop is more pronounced than the 47% reduction in tickets recorded by NYPD citywide.
WSR pulled the NYPD data on tickets issued for some key offenses:
The reduction in traffic enforcement coincides with a sharp increase in traffic fatalities during 2021.
According to a Community Board 7 analysis, the UWS saw nine traffic deaths last year, compared to two in 2020, and four in 2019. Citywide, traffic deaths spiked to 273 in 2021, the highest since 2013, according to a Transportation Alternatives report. And nationwide, pedestrian deaths and reckless driving continue to climb, according to the New York Times.
Given this increased traffic violence, why is ticketing dropping so dramatically?
WSR has asked the NYPD, Capt. Neil Zuber of the 20th and Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi of the 24th for an explanation. We have not yet received a response.
Residents should not be surprised if enforcement numbers plummet further, police sources tell WSR, thanks to a new form officers must fill out after every traffic stop.
As first reported in the New York Post, the NYPD now requires cops to record demographic information – race/ethnicity, age, gender – about each driver or biker stopped, whether a violation is issued or not.
The policy became effective January 1st after an amendment to Local Law 45 was passed last year by the City Council and is similar to the NYPD’s long-standing demographic data requirements for stopping pedestrians. Those records helped spur reforms connected to stop-and-frisk policing. Supporters of the new law expect driver data to illuminate any disparities in traffic enforcement.
“History tells us traffic stops are rife with racial and other profiling,” says Christopher Dunn, Legal Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “But it was invisible because [the data] wasn’t required to be recorded. Now we will know who is getting stopped.”
If stops happen, that is.
“You’d have to be crazy to do a traffic stop now,” one veteran cop told WSR, calling the new requirements another “attack” by groups “driven to prove bias” in policing. “It breaks my heart that people make it impossible to do the job,” he said.
Dunn finds that objection ridiculous. “Get another job. Police officers fill out paperwork all the time. If you don’t want to be accountable, if you don’t want to do the job, then do something else.”
Dunn says he doesn’t know what specific purposes the driver data may be used for in the future. “Typically, it’s used to help train and supervise police activities.” He says it’s “unlikely” that such data would be used in court to impugn an officer’s character in non-traffic cases.
“Greater data transparency benefits everyone,” says Olive Lu, Senior Research Associate at John Jay College’s Data Collaborative for Justice. With more stringent, complete reporting, “Policymakers and the [NYPD] can make more informed assessments of how policing strategies are working.”
While Lu believes the more data, the better, she does see a potential downside. “There’s a risk that people will spin [the data] in ways that aren’t entirely accurate, or will misuse or misinterpret it.”
Bottom line, Dunn says, “Removing accountability is not the way to improve traffic enforcement. Officers acting appropriately have no reason to fear this form. It will show that they’re doing their job properly.”
But another law enforcement source says the rank-and-file aren’t so sure. “I have no concerns about the quality of stops that have been made,” he said. “However, some cops may feel disincentivized moving forward.”
UPDATE: 2-15-22, 1:00 p.m.
Following publication, an NYPD spokesperson emailed WSR a statement outlining multiple traffic initiatives and achievements by the department.
“The NYPD conducts relentless follow-up in our quest towards achieving Vision Zero,” the statement said. “It should be noted that the NYPD has a finite number of resources, and the Department continually employs precision policing to traffic enforcement as a means to safety.”
An example: “The NYPD focuses on the data and over 50% of pedestrian deaths occur at intersections by turning vehicles. In 2022 the NYPD has issued 12% more summonses to drivers that failed to yield to pedestrians/cyclists.” On the UWS, the January 2022 data for “failure to yield” tickets does show an increase over November and December numbers, according to WSR’s analysis. The 20th Precinct wrote 20 such tickets in January compared to 8 in November and 10 in December. For the 24th Precinct, 102 failure to yield violations were issued in January versus 47 in November and 27 in December.
Regarding the new driver demographic data requirements, the statement said, “This information is required by law to be reported to the City Council as per local law 45 of 2021 enacted by the New York City Council. In order to comply with the law, we must collect the data. The City Council will evaluate this data.”
The statement also noted that, “During 2021, officers were assigned to patrol precincts to address specific violence related conditions. In order to address the spike in gun violence, the NYPD implemented a temporary transfer of police officers from various units, including the Transportation Bureau, to the ‘Summer All-Out Violence Reduction initiative.’ This was coupled with the assignment of members of the Transportation Bureau to the Bronx Violence Reduction initiative.” The statement did not specify if UWS officers were reassigned or whether these “temporary” staff shifts applied to the November-December 2021 period included in WSR’s analysis.
I watch drivers run red lights at 96th and WEA all the time. I’ve learned not to trust the walk light since almost every time I cross that intersection, unless the school crossing guard is on duty, one or more cars just careen through the light. It is clear that pedestrians are at the bottom of the list of folks that the system is now protecting.
Since every driver’s license comes with a photo, why is it necessary for the cops to fill out a form every time they pull someone over?
The summons will have the information needed, and where just a warning is issued? Record the driver’s license number.
Bottom line remains this: This can all be avoided with the ubiquitous use of red light and speed cameras, in effect 24/7.
Pro Publica recently ran a story about speed cameras in Chicago. The jist was that cameras were ticketing minorities at much, much greater rates, and should be abolished.
So basically, the pro-anarchy forces have already put cameras in the cross-hairs.
Red Light cameras are NON-BIASED. They record ANY car that goes through a red light.
Traffic stops lead to more police fatalities than anything else they do–being out in the road like that is dangerous.
We need red light cameras and speed cameras all over the city. It’ll save the lives of police officers, make some money for the city, and put a real dent in traffic misbehavior.
Traffics lights and laws have become suggestions and should not be taken seriously if one would like to be safe.
Only strict enforcement will reverse that.
86th and Broadway is bad too. I never ever just cross after the Walk Sign comes on and ALWAYS look both ways. Cars always are racing to turn or get through the intersection and it never fails that they catch the next red light at 87th and Broadway or at 86th and West End even after they rush to make the turn or get through the intersection.
If cops can’t do a simple form which sounds like it will take at most a minute to fill out then install Red Light cameras in the intersections where people are constantly running red lights.
Every driver’s license has a photo, and DMV has a record of the photos. So the paperwork requirement is unnecessary. In the event of a ‘warning,’ just record the license number.
What we really need? Ubiquitous, and 24/7, red light and speed cameras.
Absurd. The problem is the laissez faire attitude of the 20th and 24th precincts. It starts with their attitude towards parking on sidewalks, double-parking & warehousing totaled vehicles on main avenues.
These statistics are horrendous and the officers responsible should be fired immediately. Deaths are massively up and enforcement is massively down? Crazy.
If the police are uniformly opposed to these new forms we should take their perspective into account; however it sounds like this major decline in enforcement has preceded the change in reporting requirements.
Whenever friends from out of town visit, I tell them never to trust a traffic light. Not only do many cars ignore red lights that have just changed, but bikes and scooters ignore traffic lights entirely, and often drive in the wrong direction. We need more cameras at intersections, although they only work on cars. On the other side, it is remarkable how many pedestrians jaywalk or are oblivious to traffic as they use their smartphones while crossing the street.
Bottom line: when it comes to crime AND traffic dangers these days, we are on our own.
We all need to be hyper-aware of our surroundings at all times. On the street, in the subway, in stores…EVERYWHERE.
We obviously can’t depend on the NYPD anymore to do their jobs reliably these days. Most of them are clearly checked out.
They are the highest paid police force in the country and they are still moping around because people want to hold them accountable for decades of reprehensible behavior by a “few bad apples”.
IN criminal law reform, reportedly Mayor Adams returned from Albany where Andrea Stewart-Cousins was not helpful in advocating for bail reform and help getting the streets safer. Remember the Democrats took over the State Senate in 2018 and Ms Stewart-Cousins is up for re-election in November
Its pretty clear from the comment of the veteran cited above, that the police are resisting doing one of their jobs because they feel public hostility for having shown racial bias in the past. Its probably not about bias in traffic stops: how easily can you see a person’s race when he drives through a red light or exceeds the speed limit? (And what is the ratio of black to white car owners?)No, its a form of protest, like a work slowdown, due to resentment of public criticism.
I think there is so much misinformation out there regarding the NYPD. Things are twisted and judgements are made without facts. It’s a wonder they get any candidates at all for the future. For those that complain about them, it would be an excellent idea to go to the community precinct meeting and speak to the commanding officer first-hand and get real information directly. The 24th precinct (West 80’s to 110th) will be Wed, 2/16 at 7pm, link below. It is your chance to voice your concerns and find out the facts.
That won’t do any good. I had a one-on-one with the commanding officer of one of the local precincts when I ran into him in Central Park. When I mentioned how dangerous West End Ave has become because of the proliferation of trucks illegally traveling there, he expressed surprise. Said he hadn’t yet heard of that being a problem. Really?
If it’s something important to you, then go to the community precinct meeting where there will be others to discuss the situation and also minutes will be taken to document what you have encountered. That is where you will get individualized attention and several officers to work with you. Again, how important is it to you to take an hour for something that is upsetting you?
Almost got run over the other day at Amsterdam and 96th by a reckless driver trying to and failing to make the changing traffic signal. 96th at Amsterdam and Bway are intersections that if you park a cop car there you can probably easily ticket a dozen of reckless pricks in a couple of hours.
There are traffic cops there.
I got a failure to yield to pedestrian ticket because apparently I only stopped 5.5 feet from the person who ran into the street in front of my car rather than the required 6 feet. I feel like an idiot for not having a dash cam and a yardstick at all times.
Meanwhile cars were running red lights at that same intersection and were not stopped.
I was crossing the street with my baby in a carrier at 77th & Columbus toward the museum, with the light (cars get a red arrow). An SUV flew through the light and turned the corner right in front of us. A police SUV parked AT THAT CORNER did nothing. I walked up to it, rapped on the window, and when the officer rolled it down, told him what happened. He just stared at me and did/said nothing. I walked away furious, and from that day forward understood what the precinct does not prioritize. What a shame.
The officer was probably distracted by extremely important stuff on his phone.
They’re always looking at their phones.
They should do more of what they did at the corner of Columbus and 79th. When the walk signs are on, the lights are red; when the lights are green, the don’t walk signs are on. Simple and very effective.
“On the UWS, the January 2022 data for ‘failure to yield’ tickets does show an increase over November and December numbers, according to WSR’s analysis. The 20th Precinct wrote 20 such tickets in January compared to 8 in November and 10 in December.” Are we serious? Forget the percentages – 20 tickets in the entire month of January? They could probably have written these in one afternoon.
Buses on th e 86th st crosstown go through the light on a regular basis at Bway and 87th going to WEA nobody stops them???
When are bikes going to have to go the same way as traffic on one way streets?
All of this “talk” about car/truck traffic violations is fine and dandy, but what about enforcement against bicyclists. Where are the stats about summonses issued for riding on sidewalks, riding the wrong way on one-way streets and riding through red lights?
There is an easy answer in red light camera technology but outer-borough and suburban drivers have more votes in our State government so we die here while they save on tickets.
Democracy is beautiful isn’t it.
With motorized bicycles, scooters and other powered devices using the sidewalks, it is dangerous for us elderly to even go for a walk. Are this legal?.
Is there any speed limit for travel on the Drives in Central Park? If so, they are being ignored. I even see motorcycles using them to go downtown or uptown.
It is important to note that since 2012, the NYPD does not permit Level II Traffic Enforcement Agents to issue moving violations. Ironically, L-II TEAs are usually assigned to direct traffic. Which means that if they witness a violation, they have to call a supervisor or “regular” NYPD officer to track down the driver, stop them, and then try to issue a summons for a violation they did not personally witness. So while you may see plenty of NYPD folks at busy intersections, it’s rare to see them actually hold reckless drivers accountable…and of course, drivers know this. I used to live by the entrance to the tunnel and drivers would laugh, flip them off, and almost run them over on a regular basis.
Maybe the NYPD did away with summons quotas.
Traffic on UWS blocked by double parking-one lane moving-increasing pollution
Since living on the UWS I have never seen a time like the last 8 years where I see almost no traffic enforcement whatsoever. It’s almost as if there is no police force. When I had a car in the city about 10 years ago I almost felt harassed by the police presence. It seemed like they were always on my tail. I was pulled over several times as were many in drag nets looking for things like expired vehicle registration! One time I was pulled over because I was told I had too much stuff in my car when I was in fact moving things to a storage unit. And I was ticketed. So what happened?? From one extreme to another and I have seen all sorts of violations going unseen with no regulation. There is absolutely no reason for this that is credible. The police had to have been told to stand down by someone. And though we’ve changed Mayors it has not changed. I hope it will.
Too bad there’s so much traffic all coming in from the burbs. When you’ve been racing along Riverside Drive, you are not going to immediately slow down on entering the city. Sucks! Also I’m pretty sure pedestrians don’t get right of way by traffic lights in Jersey..? So this may have something to do with the ‘aggressive’ way locals are mistreated by cars turning. It’s all a huge mess and very intimidating having to deal with this mess. Why aren’t there ‘traffic’ cops handling this situation. You cant rely on regular phone addicted police sitting in cars to give out tickets.