No Vision Zero Specifics in Proposed NYPD Budget

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and other department brass testify before the City Council on March 21.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, second from left, and other department brass testify before the City Council on March 21.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says NYPD is committed to Vision Zero, but the initiative to eliminate traffic deaths is not mentioned in the department’s proposed budget, and it’s not clear how the resources Bratton plans to dedicate to its implementation will be adequate to significantly reduce motorist violence.

“Safer streets must also mean safer roadways for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike,” said Bratton, speaking at a preliminary budget hearing held last Friday by the City Council public safety committee. “New York’s traffic fatality rate is the lowest among major U.S. cities. However, our streets are still deadly.”

Bratton said total traffic fatalities are down by 30 percent this year compared to the same period in 2013, and pedestrian deaths have so far decreased 37 percent. “We of course won’t rest until there are none,” he said.

But sources who have seen NYPD’s proposed FY 2015 budget tell Streetsblog it contains no Vision Zero line items. Bratton told council members the department will expand the Highway Patrol and increase the number of investigators assigned to the Collision Investigation Squad, but he offered no specifics on head counts, and he gave no insight into additional measures police will take to reduce traffic crashes. At an earlier council hearing, Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said the department has 200 speed guns on order to augment the current supply of 56 speed guns spread between 77 precincts.

In March 2013, then-commissioner Ray Kelly said NYPD would increase CIS staff by 10 investigators, from 19 to 29. As of last September, there were 22 investigators, with five more to be added “in the near future,” according to John Cassidy, executive officer of the Transportation Bureau [PDF]. Cassidy also testified that NYPD created a new 13-member unit, the Collision Technician Group, to “assist CIS in the processing of collision scenes by performing evidence collection and analysis.”

There were around 16,000 injury and fatal crashes involving NYC pedestrians and cyclists in 2013; NYPD investigated just 466 of them. A policy analyst for former comptroller John Liu estimated last year that NYPD would need 227 investigators to work all crashes that result in death or serious injury.

As far as enforcement, Chan told the council in February that NYPD will increase Highway Division staffing from 170 to 270 officers, but said enforcement on neighborhood streets would be done “at the precinct level.”

“My goal is to change the mindset of the individual officers who are on daily patrol in the precincts. They are the ones who are going to make a difference on this,” Chan said. “I cannot rely on a speciality unit … to achieve this goal.”

Again, the prevalence of reckless driving in NYC points to the need for a major increase in dedicated manpower and other resources. Though the number of precinct-issued summonses for dangerous moving violations is up from last year, the increase still accounts for only a tiny fraction of violations. If this is the extent to which the department intends to enforce the speed limit going forward, it only underscores the need for local control of the city’s automated enforcement program.

During the Ray Kelly era, NYPD claimed it did not have the tools to crack down on dangerous driving and investigate more crashes. Now, the City Council is asking what it can do to provide those resources to the department. Without a commitment in the NYPD budget to the specifics of Vision Zero implementation, Bratton risks leaving that offer on the table.

  • Bolwerk

    The NYPD budget should focus on Vision 0 Police Brutality. Leave the traffic planning to the adults, k thx.

  • pedguy

    “My goal is to change the mindset of the individual officers who are on daily patrol in the precincts. They are the ones who are going to make a difference on this,” Chan said. “I cannot rely on a speciality unit … to achieve this goal.”

    I agree with this – street safety can’t just live in a silo of a special division, especially not in a city this large. The lack of new resources is disturbing though.

  • Kevin Love

    “Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said the department has 200 speed guns on order to augment the current supply of 56 speed guns spread between 77 precincts.”

    That is disturbingly, scandalously low.

  • Bolwerk

    They don’t need new resources, other than maybe speed guns (as Kevin points out). NYC spends billions on an army of cops with little street crime to go after.

  • Native

    New York’s streets have always, always been fast-paced and chaotic. That’s how we do it here.

    Didn’t your mommy warn you before letting you move here?

    You want Playskool streets? Move to Mayberry, whiner.

  • Bolwerk

    Obviously you feel the same way about crime too, Mr. Guiliani. It has always been high, let’s keep it that way!

  • BornAgainBicyclist

    That’s right, things have always been brutal, dog-eat-dog, and you’re not a real American if you can’t take it. That’s what makes this city and our country great — it weeds out the weak and undeserving and that should never change.

    Let’s increase the speed limit, narrow all the sidewalks and charge pedestrians for each street they want to cross. A portion of the proceeds can be set aside to pay for mental health damages for drivers who mow down old ladies when running red lights and making left turns at 15 mph over the speed limit.

  • Guest

    Streetsblog may suffer from uniformity of intelligent opinion sometimes, but what’s with the trolls lately?

  • Brad Aaron

    No one’s tougher than a troll who won’t sign his name.

  • The trolls come out when they feel threatened by something.

  • red_greenlight1

    Meet the new boss looking just a tad bit fuzzier than the old boss. But not by much.

  • Bolwerk

    Disqus seems to make it easier for them. That special kind of manic-paranoid-delusional Gish gallop cruft the Alex Jones/Ron Paul camp produces has been all over StreetsBlog USA lately.

    HURR AGENDA21 UN LIBRULS WANT TO TAKE R CARS AWAY BIG GUBBERMINT DEBT OH NOES

  • Reader

    Is that one of the hallmarks of a “native”? That you’re okay with kids and seniors getting crushed by motor vehicles? What a horrible indictment of your fellow “real” New Yorkers.

    Also, other than the Lenape tribe, is there any such thing as a native in a city of immigrants?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Forget the budget. I’m approaching completion of my tabulation of data from the employment phase of the 2012 Census of Governments (along with 2002 and 1992 for comparison).

    New York City had 580 full time equivalent police officers (those with power of arrest) per 100,000 residents in 2012. The national average was 203. That’s 2.9 times that national average relative to population, and an even higher ratio relative to area. And it’s been that way for decades.

    I’ll have more of this kind of information coming, including some comparisons with other urban areas, but I’ve done that for 2007 and 1997 and I can tell you we’ve got a huge overload of officers in this city. If you think the most important part of the solution is police officers writing tickets (I’m not sure) a shortage of officers to write the tickets is not the problem.

  • Guest

    I don’t know how much it dilutes your basic point, but comparing officers to NYC residents does miss the enormous commuter population that flows in and out of the city every day.

  • Guest

    But… but… they’re HEROES! They didn’t join the NYPD to write tickets.

    Go find a meter maid to whine to.

    [sarcasm]

  • Kevin Love

    But then who will beat up 84-year-old men for the “crime” of crossing the street?

  • Bolwerk

    The Chinese government is likely up to the job.

  • KillMoto

    Yeah!

    Pedestrians should stay on the sidewalks!

    You know, where drivers will find you and kill you (http://gothamist.com/2013/03/12/van_driver_who_killed_teen_on_queen.php) or maim you (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/11/sian-green-british-tourist-lost-leg-sues-new-york-city_n_4427375.html) and not even get so much as a fine for littering the pavement with your blood.

    Fight the good fight, “Native”!

  • Kevin Love

    But that “huge overload” is obviously necessary when it takes no less than five of them to beat bloody an 84-year-old man.

  • chekpeds

    Chan is right indeed, but then why is he doubling the size of the highway patrol? Isn’t this a specialty unit entirely dedicated to keep cars and drivers safe on the highway?

  • ocschwar

    It’s like pulling teeth with these people.

  • Real New Yorker

    When I was a kid back in the ’60s we played stickball, touch football and kick-the-can in our neighborhood streets every day after school. But now I’m a big, obese, old baby-boomer living off a fat public employee pension check and I want to drive my gigantic living room-on-wheels fast and park it for free, wherever I want, whenever I want. Dese are da perks of being a Native and a Real New Yorker. So, screw you and your kids. Go back to whatever Ohio suburb you came from if you don’t like cars. This is a city. Cities are all about hustle and bustle and hustle and bustle is all about cars.

  • Vernon6

    You forgot the bald eagle avatar.

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