Streetsblog FOILs NYPD for Data on Crashes Involving Police

Streetsblog has filed a freedom of information request for NYPD data on traffic crashes involving NYPD personnel.

Photo: ddartley/Flickr
NYPD is the only city agency that does not contribute to a database intended to quantify and reduce fleet vehicle crashes. Photo: ddartley/Flickr

NYPD doesn’t tell the public — or other city agencies — how many crashes police officers and other department staff get into, or what the costs are in terms of injuries, deaths, and property damage.

When the Department of Citywide Administrative Services last year released an analysis of collisions involving city fleet vehicles, data on NYPD collisions was not included. That’s because NYPD is the only agency that does not contribute to the city database tracking those crashes.

The city’s CRASH database tracks collisions that result in injuries, and specifies how many victims were walking and riding bikes. DCAS called the database “one of our major commitments as part of Vision Zero for the city fleet,” but Mayor de Blasio has not compelled NYPD to participate.

As NYPD stonewalls, the annual comptroller’s report on claims against the city, including those stemming from vehicle crashes, may be instructive. In FY 2014, NYPD had “the highest settlement and judgment costs” of all city agencies, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office. The FY 14 total of $216.9 million in NYPD-related payouts marked a significant increase from the $138 million the department cost the city in FY 2013.

On-duty NYPD officers have struck and killed at least three pedestrians since 2012, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog, and NYPD chases have resulted in the deaths of several others. The crash that killed Brooklyn teacher Felix Coss, and the pending lawsuit filed by the victim’s family, made national news recently when Streetsblog posted video that showed the officer who hit Coss failed to yield. The problem of vehicle crashes that involve police is significant enough that former comptroller John Liu recommended “on-going training regarding police vehicle chases that balance both law enforcement goals and liability concerns.”

In our freedom of information request, we asked NYPD for the most recent five years of department data on collisions involving NYPD vehicles, on-duty personnel, and vehicles and drivers contracted by the department. We’ll keep you posted.

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