By Joy Bergmann
Incidents of the most serious crimes are up 42% in the 24th Precinct and up 41% in the 20th Precinct, compared to the same January 1st – February 20th period in 2021, NYPD CompStat data show. [Click the links for detailed numbers.]
Both precincts are seeing especially significant increases in stealing of all sorts, their commanding officers said during their respective Community Council meetings in February.
Robberies have jumped 60% in the 2-4, with 24 incidents versus 15 in 2021. And package thefts remain an intractable problem. “They’re happening all over the place,” said Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi, urging residents to carefully track their shipments, to be cautious about allowing strangers into residential buildings and to have boxes sent to a monitored location, if possible.
Capt. Neil Zuber of the 20th echoed that concern, and added, “One of the biggest increases we’re seeing right now is in e-bike thefts.” Most are being stolen from deliveristas, he said; residents also need to be vigilant. “Whether it’s 30 seconds or overnight, you don’t want to leave your e-bike unsecured.”
One local said thieves had hit her street twice in one week, swiping catalytic converters. “They’re actually out there window shopping, going around looking for specific makes and models of vehicles,” said Zuber.
WSR asked the commanders to explain the dramatic drop in traffic summonses issued to drivers [including e-bikers]. The UWS had one homicide in 2021, but traffic fatalities spiked last year with nine deaths, compared to two in 2020 and four in 2019.
“Part of it is staffing,” said Yaguchi. “Our traffic team used to be a four-person team; it’s currently a two-person team.” The 24th Precinct has about 140 officers, including 35 new cops added to its headcount in the past year, he said, adding that regular patrol officers “also enforce the traffic rules.”
Zuber said his precinct has a one-person traffic team, down from six designated officers a few years ago. About 127 officers work at the 2-0, a headcount he says is “down by 40” from when he arrived in early 2020.
And there’s another big reason, they say, for the reduction: NYPD’s current traffic philosophy and modus operandi.
“The numbers are brought up, but our goal is not to write more summonses than we did last year or two years ago. But it’s basically to try to make the streets safer,” said Yaguchi. “Just like with crime, where we want to put our cops where the crime is happening, we want to focus our enforcement efforts where the accidents are happening.”
“We’ve gone away from raw numbers and towards surgical precision policing,” said Zuber, citing multiple enforcement pushes along the problematic Amsterdam Avenue corridor.
But without the negative reinforcement of tickets to change reckless driving behavior, won’t offenders feel emboldened to continue, putting residents at increased risk?
“We’re not in the business of punishing; we’re in the business of enforcing,” said Zuber, indicating he believes the New York legislature’s recent passage of the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act has made traffic summonses essentially toothless.
“In the past, if you wrote a summons, that person would have to appear in court – if they wanted to contest it – or had to pay the fine. If they didn’t do one or the other, their license would be suspended,” said Zuber. “Albany has done away with that. There is no ramification. There is no incentive to follow the law.”
The next 24th Precinct Community Council meeting will be March 16th at the Bloomingdale Library, 150 W. 100th Street, at 7:00 p.m. The next 20th Precinct meeting will be March 24th at the station house,120 W. 82nd Street, at 7:00 p.m.
Catalytic converter theft is a big thing nationwide. They’re easy to cut out of most model cars and are filled with valuable precious metals like platinum. There are companies that even sell kits to secure your catalytic converter under your car.
If we want to make our streets safer, the solution isn’t more enforcement. It’s fewer cars.
ALL THE MORE REASON TO HAVE ALL CARS,not including Public Transport and Yellow Cabs,be BANNED from the island. Just image just how much more clean our air would be!!
Nonsense. We got way fewer cars in 2020 and auto fatalities went up. Here and nationwide.
The best way to slow down reckless drivers is to have other cars in their way.
When it is time for the next election for the state legislature, our top priority should be electing candidates who are focused on quality of life and passing laws that allow the police to do their jobs and penalize those who break the law. Perhaps punishments were too severe in the past but now we have swung way too far in the other direction.
or, CAUSE police to do their jobs so that those who break the laws can be penalized.
For the past 12 years, they have been prohibited to enforce quality of life. Look it up. NYC Council put the kabosh on it around 2011.
Except when they’re on their cellphones.
Easy to cast stones…no doubt you use your cellphone at work. Being an NYPD is a thankless job as they are always assumed to be in the wrong. Shameful.
OK, I know I’m focusing on the wrong thing here, but that’s a fine-looking group of officers.
State legislature is a joke at this point. First bail reform emboldened petty criminals. Now reckless drivers have nothing to fear. We really need to change it up at the next election.
We need to return to the safe and secure days under Giuliana an Bloomberg… two decades of increasing quality of life before deBlasio, Cuomo and Adams.
Adams? Excuse me, but Adams is a former Police Captain in power for two months. Lumping him in with the last administration is not happening.
Please see Paul’s comment and read the NY1 article linked above. The situation is not quite as Capt. Zuber implied.
Hmmm…Seems to me like the only thing they DO enforce are the meter rules.
That’s not the police.
The license suspension reform act was totally mischaracterized, and it doesn’t stop punishing bad drivers.
It stops punishing drivers who can’t pay.
If you ignore a summons you can have your license suspended, as before. If you accumulate enough points for a suspension, as before, you get the suspension, as before.
It’s like ending debtors’ prison. Perhaps some think we should bring those back too?
But the bottom line is that refusing to punish people for being poor isn’t the same as open season on bad driving, not by a long shot.
Paul, thank for this important clarification. Facts and the truth matter. These mischaracterizations are happening too often and need to be called out and questioned more.
Why do these precincts devote less than 1% of their officers to traffic enforcement when traffic deaths are nine times higher than homicides? What are the other 99% doing, and why are those areas being prioritized?
Zuber should be cashiered from his role just for lying about the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act. That’s egregious.
Also, he gets to make staffing decisions and in a precinct with low violent crime, he can assign any sector officer to enforce moving violations. There’s nothing in state law or the patrol guide that prevents a beat cop from pulling over reckless drivers.
Perhaps if electronic bicycles and scooters had visible license plates, the “drivers” might hesitate to go through red lights.
I remember back where I grew up a million years ago, all bicycles had to have a license plate. CCTV and some identification might have saved me a dozen or more close calls with low tech cyclists. Just sayin’
Thank you for this comment. I totally agree.
I believe licensing electric bikes and scooters (and issuing
license plates!) would be up to the NYS legislature.
Contacting your NY State Senator and Assembly member
would be helpful as would the Governor’s Traffic Safety
Committee, which is headed by someone from the NYS DMV.
Yaguchi has to know that the word ‘accidents’ is no longer accepted. The word is ‘crashes’, and for good reason. If we had better traffic enforcement crashes would be fewer. We need better coordination with the NYPD/DOT/MTA all working in unison to make our City safer for everyone.
We need new leadership at the local precincts. The current leaders seem to spend most of their time crafting excuses rather than finding solutions. Police seem to spend most of their time looking at their cell phones instead of enforcing laws or at least observing what is going on around them. I have seen drivers go through red lights and bikes riding on the sidewalk right in front of the police. It isn’t the laws it is motivation.
Was on line at starbucks at 69 end away. A man walks in takes 6 cans of drinks and sandwiches and walks out. This kind of crime is rampant now.
DI Yaguchi makes an interesting, and I believe false, distinction here between “crime” and moving violations.
Running lights, speeding etc ARE crimes with potentially deadly consequences. Please enforce the laws with vigor.
These are terms with definitions.
A “crime” is a misdemeanor or a felony.
A “violation” is a breach that doesn’t rise to that level.
That’s how the law defines these, and it’s how law enforcement personnel are trained. His terminology was correct.
The police are missing the point. It’s not the cars that are the problem it’s the e-bikes, scooters and, yes even millennial cyclists who run through lights, go the wrong way and ride on sidewalks. I have never seen a ticket to one of those people even when the violation occurs right in front of them. But if I hit one of them with my cane, I will be cited!
What ever happy to the “BeatCop?” All I every see are two officers in cars or cluster of them in the subway. For years there has been talk of community policing but little evidence of it. If more were out of their cars walking the streets they might get to know the residents and the merchants and be in positions to stop those riding their bikes on the sidewalks and the wrong way on the streets for example💄
When I was the 20 Council President we did bike stings. However, you cannot now stop an electric bike without getting killed, because it is moving 30 mph. As it was, the old pedal bikes went fast enough to do damage to Officers. Stop complaining and get on the sidewalk, and open your own mouth, and tell the riders to get off.
I agree. Under DiBlasio there was endless talking about the benefits of community policing. But I rarely see uniformed officers standing or walking on nearby streets; only clustered at the subway station.
its obvious that nobody will or even can stop the very very many traffic violations committed by e-bikes, scooters, mini mopeds, motorized skate boards etc.Will a cop take out his gun to run after the violateer? Will he jump in front of a moped that is passing a light?
Of course not.
To give this job to meter maids would be a joke-same for traffic officers.
I propose that ANY motorized vehicle be registered before sale is made, license plates on all these vehicles, and required insurance.
This can only be done at the pre-sale level.
These precinct commanders are on the defensive offering excuses instead of offering crime fighting plans and strategy.
I read so many complaints here by people all reinventing the wheel, as if they were the first person to complain about any of this. I can always tell the folks who never before went to a community council meeting, because the bike complaints have been the #1 complaints since I rant the 20 Council in the mid 1990s to 2010. However, around 2011 after I retired, the NYC Council forced the police to back off from enforcing quality of life, and that meant bike enforcement. Now, they approved e-bikes and created a multi-fold danger. There is no other solution except for the e-bikes, and preferably ALL bikes, to be licensed, carry insurance, have lights, and be able to stop short. Without that, there is no possibility of enforcement.
Too easy to blame the police. Cops must feel so frustrated knowing that if the do their jobs, write tickets or apprehend people stealing, those caught or ticketed will never be prosecuted. Our fearless leaders who are pandering to the far left have removed any incentive for cops to do their jobs
The City needs to address the bicyclists – particularly Citibikers – who endanger pedestrians, going through red lights, going the wrong way etc.
If you want to see cops on the beat, you have to watch old movies that take place in New York City.
I like these precincts, they seem community focused. The idea that there is no effective penalty for a traffic violation, that failure to pay can no longer be a basis for suspension seems like a fair approach. But if paying a fine is “criminalizing poverty” then what is the penalty for violating the law. Anyone who has failed to pay a fine or appear in court should be subject to some form of penalty. If they enter into a payment program are they suspended if they miss a payment? If not, how are we disincentivizing bad behavior?
It should be quite obvious that Governors, AGs, Mayors and DAs that refuse to enforce our Laws, properly fund our NYPD, preferably prosecuting and blaming our Police vs absolute thugs, revolving door justice and REVERSING TWO DECADES of proven dramatic reductions in violent crimes and theft is the BASIC REASON for the equally dramatic increases in violent crime and theft. How dense can we be. (yes run on sentence, too old to fix 🙂
I was at Zabars a wk ago as I entered the store I saw a young man with his pants hanging low hitting the ground and a wild look in his face grabbed a beverage and opened it in front of the fridge to the right of the main entrance, the he got his drink he proceeded to walk out of the store as if he had just taken a cold drink of his fridge at home on his way out. He came back a minute later for more … this time he was looking for a sandwich
As a pedestrian, I am way more scared of the reckless bikers than I am of the cars. I rarely see bikers following traffic rules, whether it be blowing through red lights, going the wrong way in the bike lane, or not even using the bike lane.