Bratton on NYC’s Vision Zero Goal: “It Will Probably Remain Elusive”

If New York City hopes to achieve Vision Zero, it probably won’t happen on Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s watch.

Bratton kicked off the Vision Zero Cities conference, happening today and tomorrow at NYU, with a big helping of complacency.

“You’re not going to get to zero,” Bratton said at a morning question and answer session with former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson. Though it’s a nice goal to aspire to, said Bratton, “the reality [is] it will probably remain elusive.”

Something else New York won’t be doing while Bratton heads NYPD is increasing the number of crash investigators. Abramson, who was hit by a truck driver in a 2007 crash that police did not investigate, noted that drivers caused 3,500 serious injuries last year, and that the Collision Investigation Squad worked only about 10 percent of those cases. She twice asked Bratton if he intended to beef up CIS.

“We have many priorities,” said Bratton, who cited terrorism, “traditional crime,” and a lack of available officers as obstacles to boosting CIS personnel. Instead, Bratton said, existing CIS staff is handling more crashes, not just those where victims die or are deemed “likely to die.”

Bratton said the Highway Division will get 100 additional officers, but they won’t be assigned to CIS.

Bratton told Abramson NYPD is charging more motorists under the Right of Way Law, which he said took effect in May 2015 (it was actually August 2014). Since that time police have charged only a few dozen drivers for injuring and killing victims who were walking and biking with the right of way.

“Everything new takes a while to get ramped up,” Bratton said.

When Bratton’s repeated use of the word “accident” brought shouts of “crash” from the packed room, Abramson asked him if he considers traffic crashes to be accidents. Bratton said it’s a matter of preferred nomenclature.

“Call them whatever you want,” said Bratton. “Right now we classify them as accidents.” Bratton later clarified that incidents when police can show intent or violation of criminal law are not considered accidents.

Bratton noted that while pedestrian deaths are up nationwide, fatalities in New York City are on the decline, despite the fact that so many New Yorkers walk around staring at their phones.

  • neroden

    Dinkins should have arrested every last one of those police terrorists. He legally had the power to do so, and indeed the power to deputize others to do so.

  • neroden

    The reality? The NYPD as an organization has no interest in public safety. Some individual cops surely do have an interest in public safety.

    But as an organization they’re just a crime gang, and they’ve proven it over and over again in recent years. The organization rots from the top.

  • J

    Indeed, and instead of even trying to change police culture, De Blasio seems content to have his own police commissioner publicly undermine his VIsion Zero policy. This is no way to implement a policy.

  • J

    You do realize that, in addition to ruining lives, traffic injuries and deaths cost taxpayers money (disability benefits, death benefits, etc.). Better enforcement of laws, however, is often revenue neutral.

  • J

    Beyond being disinterested, he appears to be actively (and callously) opposed to the entire concept.

  • J

    Maggie, you hit the nail on the head!

  • Tyson White

    And when police cannot show intent, are they not still crashes?
    The word crash is a fact. The word accident is speculative at best.

  • Tyson White

    It seems he believes he’s in a higher position than the elected officials, not just a public servant who should adhere to the policies of the mayor who appointed him. He’s openly against the mayor and city council’s Vision Zero policies.

  • neroden

    Time to arrest Bratton, then. Civilian control over the police is far too important. Handcuffs and prison without bail.

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