— Law & Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) January 22, 2018
Video appears to show three undercover cops with the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) brutally arresting two women in the New York City Subway system over an apparent incident of fare evasion.
The video cuts in with one woman already being held against the wall while another woman is forced face-down onto the frigid pavement. Eventually, three cops are required to subdue the woman on the ground.
The video is currently making its way around Twitter–much to the outrage of criminal justice reform advocates.
In New York City, the cost of a single Subway ride is $2.75; discounts are offered with bulk ride purchases and unlimited ride Metrocards can be purchased starting at $32.00.
The daily cost of using the swiftly-deteriorating New York City Subway system, however, is out of reach for many of the most vulnerable New Yorkers–and has been for years. This fact eventually filtered up to New York’s managerial and political class and then back down in the form of policy.
As of this fall, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance claimed his office will no longer prosecute misdemeanor fare evasion. Vance said, “What we’re doing isn’t working.”
And, while police are often unaware their actions are in violation of local ordinances, state and/or federal laws, and even the rights and protections provided by the U.S. Constitution, that doesn’t appear to be the case here because the women were arrested in the outer borough of Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s District Attorney, Eric Gonzalez, has yet to institute a policy similar to his Manhattan counterpart.
Fare-jumping used to be part of New York City’s social fabric. Roughly 10 percent of Subway riders didn’t pay their fares–they simply jumped over the turnstiles–for years and years. Then, during the 1990s–as the Broken Windows theory of policing came into vogue–the NYPD dedicated hundreds of cops to rooting out fare-jumpers by arresting them and charging them with crimes.
Nowadays, the numbers of fare-jumpers have dropped considerably–to roughly two percent of riders. Dedication to the cause of Broken Windows-style policing, however, has cost New York City quite a substantial sum.
As far as the dollars go, Broken Windows policing is estimated to cost New York City in excess of $410 million annually, according to the non-partisan Police Reform Organizing Project.
And, according to New York City’s Independent Budget Office, prosecuting fare evasion costs the city at least $2,458 per arrest (this doesn’t include the costs of detention) which equates to in excess of $24 million per year. A program that offered free or reduced subway access to the indigent–based on the number of current fare-jumpers–would cost somewhere near a tenth of what the public currently spends on criminalization.
Law&Crime reached out to the NYPD’s 84th Precinct for comment on this story, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
[image via screengrab]