Pat Lynch Makes the Case for Automated Traffic Enforcement

If there’s one thing to glean from the story of Joseph Spina — the NYPD officer who got caught on tape telling a motorist, “Mayor de Blasio wants us to give out summonses, okay?” — it’s that NYC needs more automated traffic enforcement.

Whatever you think of NYPD’s decision to suspend Spina without pay, the incident has brought to the surface the disdain that officers feel for enforcing traffic laws. If police are so squeamish, maybe the job should be entrusted to a system that doesn’t get embarrassed by the prospect of protecting New Yorkers from speeding and careless driving.

One officer told the Post he blames the mayor “all the time” when issuing traffic citations. And PBA President Pat Lynch, the man NYPD rank-and-file elected to represent them, complained that Vision Zero “boils down to police officers enforcing traffic laws” (right, can you believe it?) and “subjecting New Yorkers to expensive summonses that many cannot afford to pay.”

For the record, NYPD traffic summons activity in 2014 and 2015 did not measurably increase compared to the previous three years under Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. What shifted was the proportion of tickets issued for the most dangerous violations — speeding and failure to yield.

More to the point, Lynch doesn’t seem to care in the least about saving New Yorkers from the anguish and pain caused by dangerous driving.

Back when City Hall was trying to get its speed camera expansion bill through Albany in 2014, Lynch’s position on traffic enforcement sounded a lot different. “The city would be better served and public safety could be vastly enhanced by hiring more police officers and assigning them to traffic enforcement,” he said.

Even then, however, it was clear that Lynch viewed traffic stops as a means to ends other than simply preventing drivers from running people over — calling them opportunities to make arrests for “offenses like carrying an illegal weapon.”

Now, at least, the pretense has been stripped away. The PBA doesn’t want to enforce traffic laws. New York needs a much more robust automated enforcement system to do the job police dread doing.

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