Today’s transportation committee meeting, the first chaired by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, was short and sweet. The new chair opened with a statement outlining his goals for the 13-member committee, which minutes later unanimously passed an override of Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of a bill that would give the council more information about NYPD’s hit-and-run investigations.
The bill, Intro 1055, would require NYPD to issue quarterly online reports detailing, by precinct and intersection, the number of “critical injury” hit-and-run crashes, how many of the department’s hit-and-run investigations have resulted in arrest, and how many have not had an arrest. The bill also requires NYPD to tell the council what steps it is taking to investigate individual hit-and-run crashes.
Of approximately 300 investigations launched by NYPD in 2012, around 60 involved hit-and-run drivers. Only 15 of those cases resulted in arrest.
The bill, introduced by former Council Member Leroy Comrie, is expected to pass the full council at its next meeting on February 4. Today, council members recounted stories of families who have lost loved ones to hit-and-run crashes.
Dante Dominguez, a 45-year-old father of three, was killed in November 2012 by a hit-and-run driver in Flushing. Sarah Dominguez, Dante’s mother, works on the janitorial staff in the City Council’s offices. “One night I was working late, and she was cleaning,” Council Member Rosie Mendez said. She noticed that Dominguez had been crying, so Mendez asked her what was wrong. “It’s been 14 months. They have no leads on who killed her son,” Mendez told Streetsblog after the meeting, adding that the family has reported difficulty getting information from the district attorney and police.
“Families have a right to know,” former committee chair James Vacca said, noting that the legislation is important not only to victims’ families but to the council, as well. “Without every possible piece of information, then doing effective oversight becomes problematic.”
Rodriguez said he was holding today’s vote in honor of Josbel Rivera, a 23-year-old killed by a hit-and-run driver while he was crossing Moshulu Parkway in the Bronx. Days after the crash, surveillance video showed the vehicle involved bursting into flames as an unidentified person walked away, but the case was unsolved until a man turned himself in months later.
“This committee will place a strong focus on safety and accountability,” Rodriguez said in his opening statement, which emphasized the human toll of traffic fatalities and the importance of learning from the experiences of other cities. “In the near future, we will hear about what steps our new administration is taking to stem the tide of traffic violence and to bring an end to the terrible deaths and injuries resulting from reckless driving.”