In the two weeks since the murder of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, the amount of NYPD arrests have been uncharacteristically low. The trend was first reported last week, after tickets and arrests for minor offenses dropped 94 percent compared to the same week in 2013. The police slowdown was linked by the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association to a feeling of unsafety amongst officers due to the strained relationship between De Blasio and the NYPD, as well as the many protests taking place throughout the city.
The department’s latest statistical report reveals that the slowdown has continued for another week. Overall arrests are down 56% compared to the same week last year, from 5,448 to 2,401. Tickets for minor infractions are down about 90%, with 1,191 parking tickets issued last week compared to 16,008 last year and 749 tickets for moving violations compared to 9,349 last year. There were 347 criminal arrests this year, compared to 4,077 last year. The following graph, compiled by the New York Times using data from the NYPD's CompStat Unit, depicts the obvious difference between the final two weeks of 2014 and the same time last year.
The continuation of the police slowdown is evidence that the low arrest statistics weren’t just tied to the holiday season or the mourning of officers Liu and Ramos. The similarities in numbers between this week and last week and the striking difference between the same two weeks last year suggests that there is an active attempt by the NYPD to send a some sort of message. Given the significant drop-off in tickets for low-level violations, the department seems to be purposefully taking aim at a portion of the city’s finances. It’s a smarter, albeit just as petty, way of expressing contempt towards de Blasio as is turning around whenever he speaks.
The irony of it all is that by reducing the amount of tickets and arrests for low-level crime, police are doing exactly what protestors around the country have been demanding them to do. Of course protesters seeking justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner are calling for more than for police to stop issuing traffic tickets. There is a broader discussion of race, stereotyping and criminal justice to be had. The NYPD has, however, managed to dramatically decrease criminal arrests while still providing its service to the people of New York. Until the public rift between De Blasio and the NYPD is healed, the department shouldn’t be praised for its actions. The department has still taken reactionary measures in order to send a message to the leader of its city, and the public feud between those two entities should not be taken lightly.
Image Source: Vice News