NYC Jaywalker Crackdown; Return To “Broken-Windows” Policing?


Under Vision Zero, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to cut last year’s 176 pedestrian traffic deaths “literally” to zero. In his administration's first 40 days, says the New York Times, that pledge translated into a series of ticket blitzes against drivers — and, in unusually large numbers, jaywalkers. Jaywalking tickets are up nearly eightfold this year, despite the mayor's insistence that his plan for safer streets did not include singling out pedestrians. Through Feb. 9, were 215 jaywalking summonses issued, compared with 27 over the same period last year.

The police department may be able to motivate officers to engage in traffic enforcement by connecting those efforts with traditional crime-fighting, said criminologist George Kelling, an adviser to Police Commissioner William Bratton who helped develop “broken windows” policing, the theory that as officers address minor quality-of-life crimes, more serious offenses are reduced. “That's a side benefit: When you enforce the rules against disorderly behavior, it turns out that you had contacts with a lot of people who had done serious crimes or had warrants out,” Kelling said. “I think that the concern about traffic is the new threshold in terms of order maintenance.”

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