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.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    get NYPD out of their cars, period. The is zero reason for NYPD to use cars in CBD. They can walk to their patrol area from their station house.

  • com63

    Good luck! I hope you guys get somewhere with this.

  • J

    Fantastic. It’s utterly reprehensible that the agency most directly responsible for public safety is the most active in opposing vision zero. The whole agency is thoroughly rotten, and De Blasio is too weak to clean house.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    here is a map of NYPD precinct houses in Manhattan. It’s faster to walk for 99% of officers than to drive. Even Supervisors, LT., and Captains would cover more of their precinct on foot faster than via a motor vehicle. The furthest distance is about 10 blocks. The vast majority of distances are less than 5 blocks.

    The NYPD would also be much more effective on foot in Manhattan than hidden in their vehicles. Public Safety would increase.

  • I look forward to the update in 2021

  • ddartley

    Timely reporting, given the Glen Grays story.

  • ddartley

    I’ve often had the same thoughts.

    I think NYPD could make great strides in community relations if far fewer of its patrol personnel were assigned to vehicles. I had a captain once explain to me reasons I hadn’t thought of why their vehicles are more necessary than I realized, but that conversation wasn’t enough to make me drop the idea. If you wanted–maybe not needed–but wanted to ask a cop something, which would you rather approach? One sitting inside a vehicle with the windows rolled up, engine running, doing stuff on his phone? Or one standing outdoors? And vice versa–if you’re the first of those two cops, you gonna be in a frame of mind where you welcome the approach of a member of the public? Maybe the other guy wouldn’t either, but would probably be more ready for it than cop in the car.

  • Kevin Love

    Fastest of all would be on a bicycle.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    True and tragic that the NYPD leadership doesn’t understand having Their people barricaded in cars only increases distrust and further alienates Their people from New Yorkers.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    doubt we’ll ever get tubby NYPD Lts on bikes even if it’s twice as fast. Walking might be best hope for these overweight future disability nightmares

  • Barry Vance

    Thanks for fighting the good fight! The story about the man hit and killed in a crosswalk by the cop on the cell phone was infuriating! Great blog. I read it daily.

  • Reader

    What’s crazy is the number of cops assigned to parks who just sit in their cars. You even see them on the Hudson River Greenway in squad cars. They need to get out and walk around or have more cops on bikes in such locations. Virtually every other city I can think of does this – only in NYC do cops seem surgically attached to their car seats.

  • Now that I think of it, I used to see cops on bikes occasionally, but not anymore. It’s strange that this was more frequent before the recent explosion of bicycling.

  • Brad Aaron

  • AMH

    Yep, and St Nicholas Park, and Mt Morris Park, and Morningside Park, and Central Park (they drive all over the narrow footpaths).

  • Guest

    They seem to detach themselves from their cars well enough when they park all day long in bus stops…

  • neroden

    This is totally illegal, right? Seriously, can’t someone arrest these gangbangers in blue?

  • Don Head

    Please keep pursuing this!


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