The NYPD announced two high-profile arrests yesterday, which wouldn't make necessarily be the headline in our daily headlines except for the timing. Next week, the City Council takes up a bill that would re-assign the Collision Investigation Squad from cops and detectives at the NYPD to transportation professionals at the Department of Transportation.
The NYPD strongly opposes the measure, as does the mayor. But it's long been a dream of advocates, who say that if the DOT did crash investigations, it would lead to more safety redesigns that would reduce crashes in the first place. And besides, the NYPD rarely holds killer drivers accountable (which is why when they do, it's news).
So remember the names Yehiel Guzi and Prince Nesbitt-Hall, because you'll certainly hear them a lot when the NYPD testifies against the bill next Wednesday.
Guzi is the van driver who ran over two kids — killing one — outside a religious school in Bensonhurst last month. He was finally charged on Wednesday with a top charge of criminally negligent homicide — a charge that the NYPD apparently pushed for, despite reluctance from religious leaders, a source told Streetsblog. (The Post covered the charge.)
Nesbitt-Hall is the 18-year-old from New Jersey who's charged with driving a stolen car into another car in Staten Island earlier this week before fleeing on foot. He was also collared on Wednesday and hit with an arm's worth of charges. (The Post also covered that.)
It doesn't take a brain surgeon to know that the NYPD will be citing its fine police work in these two cases as evidence that it should remain its collision investigation powers. Let's see how that plays out next week, but activists should step up their game if they want to make this long-sought change.
In other news:
Just in time for the latest snow, Manhattan's Community Board 4, which really is the leading board when it comes to pedestrian issues, is begging our readers to fill out a survey about user experiences with New York's sidewalks, both before and after winter storms. It'll only take you four minutes. Click here.
The MTA went ahead with its 7-percent hikes on bridge tolls, and Gridlock Sam is happy (to a point) (NYDN). The higher tolls take effect in April (NY Post). Janno Lieber is excited because now he can start some capital work again (amNY).
About those cameras that the MTA was supposed to install in all the subway stations? Yeah, that's delayed, which will probably provide the city with another excuse to deploy more cops. (NYDN)
And here's today's example of why that's a horrible idea — a video of cops pummeling a suspect on the ground (NYDN, NY Post). But the Post also had a story about NYPD brass complaining that attacks on cops have increased — but the story also served as a reminder that overall subway crime against customers is down. The 15 attacks on cops were "a big chunk of the total of 43 felony assaults in the tubes last month," the Tabloid of Record reported, providing more evidence that police aren't so much helping victims as they are becoming victims.
Times columnist Farhad Manjoo may be the first mainstream writer at a big, frequently pro-car newspaper to point out that electric cars are still cars — meaning we'll still be stuck with road violence, sprawl and under-funded transit. The problem with America, he writes, "isn’t just gas-fueled cars, but car-fueled lives." (NY Times)
We learned two things from Clayton Guse's coverage of the MTA's plan to withhold an already-agreed-upon raise for transit workers: 1. that the MTA definitely should not do that to workers who lost 146 colleagues to COVID; and 2. that "gobshites is an Irish slang word that refers to a person with a mouth full of excrement." (NYDN) The Post's David Meyer did not provide Irish colloquialisms.
Meanwhile, the agency has been able to stave off service cuts at least through 2022, thanks to federal money. (NY Times)
A man with a baseball bat beat up a man on a bicycle, but that's about all we know. (NY Post)
Here's some good news for anyone who likes safe streets in The Bronx: Council Member Mark Gjonaj, who tried to block bike lanes and other road safety improvements in Morris Park, announced he won't run for re-election. He blamed leftists. (NY Post)
A senior who had been struck by a hit-and-run driver as he crossed an Upper East Side street last month has died. No arrest in that case, though. (amNY)
And finally, the Times ran the perfect photo from yesterday's snowstorm — capturing in one frame how New York City discriminates against pedestrians while drivers suffer no inconvenience at all: