Turnstile jumpers with open summonses will no longer be arrested, NYPD says

A new NYPD policy regarding fare evasion on subways and buses should reduce arrests and keep more officers on patrol, the department said Wednesday.
A new NYPD policy regarding fare evasion on subways and buses should reduce arrests and keep more officers on patrol, the department said Wednesday. Photo Credit: Gregory Koz

The NYPD will no longer arrest people who jump the turnstile who also have an open summons effective Wednesday, the department confirmed.

According to the new policy, officers will issue a second summons if they stop someone for fare evasion who has an open warrant for a previous summons. The officer will then drive the person to court to settle the outstanding summons and the new one for fare evasion.

“This will ensure more police officers are on patrol — including at turnstiles — to continue to drive down crime in the nation’s safest subway system,” an NYPD representative said in an email. “With the expansion of Neighborhood Policing in transit, there will be increased understanding about crime and quality of life issues in our subway system. Partnership with the public through Neighborhood Policing is central to our comprehensive strategy to reduce record-low crime even further while reducing arrests on the subway system and keeping all New Yorkers safe.”

In the past, officers would arrest and charge someone for misdemeanor theft of services if they were found to have an open warrant for a previous summons.

Officers can still arrest people who jump a turnstile for a host of reasons, including if they have an open misdemeanor or felony warrant, if they are on parole or probation, or if they have an unsealed and open arrest in transit in the last three years for such offenses such as larceny or criminal mischief. Officers can also make an arrest if the person has an unsealed and open arrest in the last 10 years for violent offenses such as murder, rape, or robbery.

A supervisor can also approve exceptions to the new rule if an officer has a legitimate law enforcement reason, according to the NYPD.

The new policy follows a five-month citywide pilot program in which police said theft-of service-arrests (or fare evasion) were reduced.

Through June of this year, police arrested 3,817 people for fare evasion on buses and subways and issued 31,518 summonses. Those numbers are trending down: fare evasion arrests dropped 62.6 percent and summonses dropped 22.1 percent, when comparing the first six months of this year to the same period last year.

Advocates have criticized the city’s policing of fare evasion for years as a “broken windows” approach that largely discriminates against minorities. The policy shift comes as the de Blasio administration refuses to comply with a city law enacted in January that requires the NYPD to publish demographic data on subway fare evasion enforcement.

Queens Councilman Rory Lancman, who sponsored that legislation, says the move doesn’t go far enough.

“New York City should not be arresting or prosecuting anyone for fare evasion,” Lancman said in a statement. “The Police Department’s new policy is a positive development since it will keep more New Yorkers out of the criminal justice system, but the Mayor should stop criminalizing the poor entirely and direct the NYPD to issue civil summonses only for fare evasion.”