Idleness In New York City Courts During Police Arrest Slowdown


The usual chaotic bustle of New York City’s courts has given way to unusual scenes of tranquil inactivity in the third week of the precipitous drop in police arrests, the New York Times reports. “It's slow, crazy slow,” said Marcy Seckler, a veteran Legal Aid lawyer. At night court in Manhattan, only 30 defendants came before Judge Abraham Clott, who often rubbed his eyes and yawned. On a typical night, he would see 60 to 90 defendants. No more than 12 people sat in the courtroom at any time, and court officers checked their watches and wandered away from their posts. At 12:15 a.m. yesterday, the judge declared the session over, 45 minutes early.

New York City police officers have sharply curtailed arrests and summonses. Only 347 criminal summonses were written in the week through Sunday, down from 4,077 in the same period a year ago. The downturn magnifies a divide between the rank-and-file and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said his “members are doing their job.” The drop in arrests is particularly striking for low-level misdemeanors and so-called quality of life violations, like riding a bike on the sidewalk. Arrests for offenses that a few weeks ago were common, such as loitering, turnstile jumping, lying down on subway benches, suddenly are rare.

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