Misdemeanor arrests virtually the same as last year
The number of people arrested for misdemeanors has remained virtually the same this year as the same time period last year, according to a new report, as the NYPD, under new commissioner Bill Bratton, cracks down on quality-of-life offenses.
There were 97,487 misdemeanors this year from January through May, according to the draft of the report released Thursday by the Police Reform Organizing Project, a police watchdog group. There were only about 200 fewer arrests for the same time period last year.
Common charges included marijuana possession, driving without a license and having an open alcohol container, according to the report, using data from the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services and court observations.
The majority of those arrested were minorities, said Robert Gangi, director of the organization. More than 81% of people charged with a misdemeanor in the first five months of 2014 were black or Hispanic, the report showed.
"It's almost always low-income people of color for activities like jaywalking, walking between subway cars, begging," Gangi said. "Police don't engage in warnings or admonishments. It's unreasonable policing, it's punitive policing."
Gangi said the much-criticized practice of stop and frisk was simply a tactic of the larger Broken Windows Theory.
But Bratton has repeatedly promised to continue employing Broken Windows-style policing, which he famously used his first time around as the city's police commissioner in the 1990s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In an effort to quell tensions, earlier this week he asked for the public to respond to police officers "when an officer does approach you to correct your behavior."
Historically, Bratton said, the police department "was in some instances perceived to be brutal, that there is not that spirit of cooperation."
But Gangi said arrest and ticketing practices are practically the same under Bratton and de Blasio as they were in the previous administration.
"We're saying, in a way, that broken windows is the new stop and frisk," Gangi said. "The laws are not enforced equally in New York City. They're marked by a stark racial and class bias."
On Thursday, de Blasio and Bratton met with Rev. Al Sharpton and other clergy to discuss racial tensions in light of Eric Garner's death, in which Sharpton called arrest statistics under Broken Windows racially "disproportionate."
The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment on the report.
(With Matthew Chayes)