The 10th Precinct’s Grievance-Based Policing Isn’t Making Streets Safer

The precinct, where drivers have killed four people walking and biking this year, has ticketed more cyclists in 2017 than speeding motorists, drivers who failed to yield, and off-route truck and bus operators combined.

10th Precinct CO Captain Paul Lanot and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill
10th Precinct CO Captain Paul Lanot and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill

Motorists have killed four people walking and biking in the 10th Precinct this year, and injured nearly 100. Meanwhile, precinct officers have issued almost twice as many summonses to cyclists in 2017 as they have to motorists for speeding, failure to yield, and truck route violations combined.

Last June cyclists Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis were killed by off-route tour bus drivers in the 10th Precinct in crashes that happened a few days apart. In July a motorist hit 21-year-old Frederick Swope in a crosswalk near Chelsea Piers, inflicting fatal injuries. In August a tractor-trailer driver with a suspended license killed a 73-year-old man in the 10th Precinct.

With so much motor vehicle carnage on their watch, you’d think the 10th Precinct would be cracking down on reckless driving behaviors that are getting people hurt and killed. But as of August precinct officers had ticketed just 383 drivers for failing to yield to pedestrians, and had issued only 22 truck route summonses.

Like other NYPD commands, the 10th Precinct responds to fatal collisions by ticketing potential victims. At their September community council meeting, reports Chelsea Now, precinct officials boasted about their misplaced enforcement priorities.

Bicycles and traffic safety also generated much discussion at the meeting, when an older resident expressed her concern about the speed of bicycles going down the street (there are designated bike lanes on both Eighth and Ninth Aves., the source of most complaints). Traffic/Youth Sergeant Paul Mondone said the command has already given out 815 summonses this year to speeding and other unlawful bicyclists. There are also auxiliary officers handing out flyers to every bicyclist they see.

“These people are flying through the bike path,” Sgt. Mondone noted.

The 10th Precinct issued 68 speeding tickets during the first eight months of 2017. It’s unknown how many of those went to motorists in multi-ton motor vehicles and how many were given to people on 20-pound bicycles. (Transportation Alternatives told Streetsblog it’s unlikely that many of those 815 bike tickets were for speeding.)

This week Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced that homicides and shootings in NYC are at their lowest levels in modern history. While NYPD attributes the decline in crime to data-driven policing, there is no evidence that such analysis extends to preventing traffic injuries and deaths.

Allowing individual precincts to shape their enforcement agendas based on who shows up to complain isn’t helping.