Will Bratton Direct All NYPD Precincts to Get Behind Vision Zero?

NYPD summons data from last month show that ticketing for deadly traffic violations increased overall compared to February 2013, but in the weeks after the official launch of Vision Zero, enforcement remained wildly inconsistent from precinct to precinct.

WNYC mapped data on citations for speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and red-light running. The dark blue areas on the map indicate the biggest increases, but reporters Jenny Ye and Kat Aaron note that those numbers come with a caveat:

Some precincts wrote 10 times more tickets this February than they did in February 2013. But that’s because ticketing last year was strikingly low. In Brooklyn’s 84th precinct, which covers Boerum Hill and Brooklyn Heights, officers wrote just 10 tickets for speeding, failure to yield and ignoring a signal combined. This year, they have issued more than 100.

Though the 84th Precinct figures from this February are a 930 percent increase over February 2013, 103 tickets in a month for three dangerous driving offenses still represents a small fraction of total violations that could be ticketed.

In the Upper West Side’s 24th Precinct, which in January responded to three pedestrian deaths with a jaywalking crackdown, local officers wrote just 64 summonses last month for speeding, failure to yield, and red-light running combined, compared to 47 in February 2013. (The Daily News reported today that the 24th Precinct will be getting a new commanding officer after Inspector Nancy Barry was named Bronx adjutant.)

A big pink swath in Queens includes the 108th and 110th precincts, which cover some of the most dangerous major streets in the city. Though the 110th issues a lot of summonses compared to other NYPD precincts, enforcement last month was down from 2013. With just 181 tickets issued in the three mapped categories, the 108th wrote about half as many summonses as the 110th.

Other precincts writing fewer summonses since the launch of Vision Zero are the 10th (Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea), the 23rd (East Harlem), the 30th (Hamilton Heights), the 34th (Washington Heights and Inwood), the 69th (Canarsie), and the 120th and 123rd, both in Staten Island.

In deep red are: the 42nd Precinct (Morrisania); the 101st (Rockaways); and the 111th in northeastern Queens, where officers issued a total of 21 tickets last month to drivers putting lives at risk, down from 31 in February 2013.

It’s clear that enforcement must improve dramatically in order to meet Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero targets. Unless and until Albany allows NYC to ramp up its automated enforcement programs, the bulk of that work will fall to NYPD. The question is whether de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton will continue to give commanding officers the autonomy to pick and choose what laws they want to enforce, resulting in a patchwork of “red” and “blue” precincts, or if they will direct the entire force to address deadly driving.

  • Flakker

    Do the Staten Island numbers account for the fact that the precinct boundaries have changed?

  • Ace

    If only someone from the NYPD and or the mayor’s office would go out and stand on any street corner anywhere in the city for an hour, they would see the volume of moving violations that occur and realize what a drop in the bucket the current level of enforcement is.

  • M to the I

    It is nice to see that there is some improvement in enforcement. But, and to use the 17th precinct in Manhattan as an example, an increase from 26 to 68 citations means that the precinct is ticketing about 2.4 dangerous drivers EACH DAY! I could stand outside my office located in that precinct and issue at least 2 citations per light cycle for failure to yield on 3rd Avenue.

    This morning on 1st Avenue, in this same precinct, I watched as an officer stationed in an undercover car, gave citations to 4 cyclists who stopped at a red light and proceeded after checking that there were no oncoming cars or pedestrians. That is already more citations to cyclists who were endangering noone than to drivers who maim and kill. Where are the stake outs for dangerous drivers?!

    If the NYPD is dealing with limited resources, BdB and the police commissioner need to direct their precinct commanders to target the most serious violations to reach Vision Zero. This is not happening if, given the conditions and how people drive, the average number of citations is 2-10 a day. It needs to be more like 2-10 an hour.

  • Aunt Bike

    I think One Police Plaza is leaving too much to the discretion of the precinct commanders. Maybe when they start getting raked over the coals at monthly CompStat style meetings things will change.

    The precinct I live in, the 120th, actually gave out 1% fewer summonses than last year. But according to our local paper, they participated fully in the recent citywide crackdown on double parking. Go figure.

  • Jenny Ye WNYC

    Great point, @flakker:disqus. Since the 121st Precinct in Staten Island is new as of November 2013, we’ve now merged the 120th, 121st and 122nd precincts to show sums for February 2013 and February 2014.

  • Nick Malinowski

    the NYPD issued 88,000 moving violations in February. that is a pace for 1 million for the year. How many tickets is too many? there has to be a better way than asking the NYPD to ticket their way to safer streets.

  • qrt145

    1 million per year sounds like a big number but it’s not. So, 88 thousand tickets per month? I bet there are at least 88 million violations per day! That means they’d be catching something like 0.003%. An individual driver can get away with many violations every day and still, on average, get caught about once per decade.

    For enforcement to have any impact, people have to feel that if they break the law, there is a non-negligible chance that they’ll get caught. You see this is not happening in the language that people use when they get caught. They say things like “you won’t believe how unlucky I was today! I got a ticket!”, instead of “I made a driving error and got a ticket”.

    I agree that there are “better ways” through street design, parking policy, tolls… but enforcement is also a part of it, and I think we need more, not less.

  • Brad Aaron

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