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Who Will Be NYPD’s Next Transportation Chief?

3:06 PM EDT on May 27, 2009

With NYPD Chief of Transportation Michael Scagnelli working his last day on the job today, his exit is marked by reflections on his stint at the post, speculation on who might replace him, and hope that his successor will build on his traffic safety initiatives.

In a press release issued this morning, Transportation Alternatives credited Scagnelli as the "pioneer" of TrafficStat, which, said Executive Director Paul Steely White, "set the precedent of strategically using enforcement to bring crash rates down."

"Chief Scagnelli helped battle the notion that traffic fatalities are random and unpreventable," White said.

TA also laid out enforcement improvement recommendations for the next transportation chief:

    • Measure Incident Reduction, Not Summons Issued: TrafficStat currently measures traffic safety by the number of tickets issued, which can be completely unrelated to the underlying problem and rewards the writing of tickets rather than the reduction of traffic crime. Measuring the level of infraction and reduction in crashes is the only way to assess the effectiveness of enforcement.
    • Reinstate Accident Prone Location Deployment: Target NYPD enforcement resources to intersections and streets with high levels of crashes.

Who Scagnelli's replacement might be, or where the department stands in the selection process, remains a mystery. The DCPI officer we spoke with yesterday said she "had no idea" if a successor had been named, and a second query has so far yielded no response. For whatever it's worth, as of three weeks ago talk around the NYPD Rant water cooler centered on current Chief of Transit James Hall. Hall's office had no comment. A call to Scagnelli's office was referred to DCPI.

Despite some very public missteps, Scagnelli will be remembered for reducing the number of deaths on New York City streets. Here's hoping that Commissioner Ray Kelly appoints someone who will take traffic enforcement, and its impact on the safety of all New Yorkers, as seriously as he did -- and then some.

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