DAILY NEWS EXCLUSIVE: analysis finds racial disparities in summons for minor violations in ‘broken windows’ policing

The Daily News has a great summary of precinct-by-precinct data on summonses from 2001 through 2013. The NYCLU exclusively provided the News this data from the Office of Court Administration. The News combined this data with U.S. Census Bureau and NYPD data on the population and racial makeup of precincts.

The article has several data tables available for export.

Also, this article calls into light why we need the City Council to update and pass Intro 362-2014: OpenGIS bill. This bill legislates all City agencies to openly share “summons, violation, or ticket given out by a city governmental entity” with “the exact location of the incident using GPS coordinates along with date and time for every violation, crime and arrest – including the exact location on the street where collisions occur. Current forms only record nearest intersection or street address, leaving the public without the specific corner or crosswalk on a street or pathway within a park where incidents occurred.

From our point of view, this bill needs a bit of work to ensure privacy protections to victims and offenders, but otherwise this bill is in the right direction. We need transparency for all summonses!


Daily News analysis of Office of Court Administration data courtesy of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and U.S. Census Bureau.

Here are some choice quotes…

“They are the human faces of the most prevalent but underscrutinized element of “broken windows” policing, a controversial crime-fighting strategy implemented in the 1990s that focuses on aggressively enforcing quality-of-life offenses to deter more serious ones. And these faces are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic men, a Daily News analysis of first-ever released summons statistics has found.”

“The most common offenses were: consumption of alcohol (1.6 million), disorderly conduct (1 million), public urination (334,000), bicycling on the sidewalk (296,000) and operation of a motor vehicle in violation of the safety rules (213,000).”

“‘My neighborhood is like it’s under martial law. We got all these rookie officers on each corner. These officers, they just run around and ask you for any excuse to ask you for your ID and write you a summons,’ said Angel Garcia, 34, of East Harlem, waiting in line at summons court in lower Manhattan last month.”

“‘You’ll see a disproportionately large percentage of young male blacks and young male Hispanics,’ said another veteran court employee. ‘It seems that only a certain kind of people are being targeted with this.’”

“As of June, there were 1.1 million open warrants out for people who failed to show up to court over these low-level offenses, according to the state courts.”

“‘There’s no due process,’ said lawyer Susan Tipograph… She said there’s not much incentive for reform either, because the court is very profitable… Summonses brought in $8.7 million last year, the second-largest source of revenue for the city’s criminal courts. ‘Every time a case is called, you can almost hear the cash register ringing,’ she said.”

“Lieberman of the NYCLU said more needs to be done. ‘We’re mindful that the Police Department is a massive ocean liner difficult to turn around, and that change does not happen overnight,’ she said. ‘But Commissioner Bratton’s relentless advocacy of broken windows has been an ongoing source of concern.’”