The highest number of arrests made by the NYPD are for a $2.75 crime, according to the Police Reform Organising Project.
In 2015, the NYPD made 29,198 arrests for “farebeating” or “theft of services” — when someone hops a turnstile or tries to ride a train without paying the fare. And the number has continued to rise in recent years, according to data previously reported by the New York Daily News.
The NYPD declined to confirm the statistic but did tell Business Insider “… the prohibition against metrocard swipes is still being enforced vigorously,” with a caveat that “the solicitation of a swipe (if not accompanied by prohibited conduct) is not a violation and not enforced.”
MTA rules prohibit “the unauthorised sale of certain transportation services,” like offering to swipe someone in using an unlimited metrocard in exchange for payment.
PROP also alleges that 92% of these arrests involve people of colour.
“I am not surprised that 92% of the people arrested for ‘farebeating’ are Black or Latino,” Steve Zeidman, a law professor at CUNY and longtime police reform advocate, told Business Insider. “That said, it is certainly not the case that 92% of the people who ‘farebeat’ are Black and Latino.”
Instead, the arrests unfairly target low-income people, who can’t afford subway fare, let alone an expensive fine, according to PROP.
When someone is caught for farebeating, “a court summons will generally be issued but persons will still be arrested if they have open warrants or fail after a reasonable time to produce proper ID,” according to the NYPD.
People arrested for farebeating may end up spending hours or even a few nights in jail, the Daily News reports.
“Farebeating’ is always in the NYPD’s list of the top ten most commonly charged crimes, and farebeating arrests comprise the bulk of many a police officer’s monthly work product,” Zeidman said.
“Subway arrests and summonses are among the most harsh and harmful practices that the NYPD carries out as part of its quota-driven ‘broken windows’ approach to law enforcement,” Robert Gangi of PROP said. “Targeting black and Latino New Yorkers with these tactics reinforces economic and racial inequities.”
While critics argue “broken windows” policing unfairly targets minorities and leads to unnecessary arrests, police commissioner Bill Bratton remains a supporter. The theory goes that minor disorder, like vandalism, perpetuates more serious, even violent crime. By first pursing these smaller offenses, referred to as “quality of life” crimes, police can cut back.
PROP, along with a number of partner organisations, is organising a #swipeitforward to encourage people to swipe in their fellow subway riders and publicize the issue.
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