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Former NYPD Transportation Chief Supports Open Traffic Safety Data

12:26 PM EDT on April 29, 2010

scags.jpgFormer NYPD Chief of Transportation Michael Scagnelli. Photo: New York Post.

In yesterday's story about Intro 120, the City Council bill to make some of NYPD's traffic safety data available to the public, we noted that former Chief of Transportation Michael Scagnelli submitted written testimony in favor of the bill, countering resistance from his successor and other police officials.

Scagnelli was instrumental in the creation of TrafficStat, the police department's system for reporting, analyzing, and preventing traffic crashes and violations. In his statement [PDF], he disputed the NYPD's claim that collecting and disseminating the data required by Intro 120 would be a time-consuming distraction from police work: 

The simple fact is that this information already exists in a form that could be easily released and made available to the public and other agencies focused on reducing traffic casualties.

Scagnelli's testimony also bolstered the case of council members who argued that  opening up street safety data does, in fact, serve a substantial public purpose: 

The central lesson of TrafficStat is that the more traffic data is available, the more capability there is to prevent accidents, injuries the loss of life that too often occurs on New York City streets...

I strongly believe that one way to help reduce traffic injuries and fatalities on New York city streets is for the NYPD to make traffic injury, fatality and summonsing data open and available to the public.

Intro 120 will need 34 votes to override a likely mayoral veto; it currently has 17 co-sponsors. Perhaps the words of one of New York's former top cops will help persuade other council members that greater transparency can save lives.

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