According to records obtained by the Police Reform Organizing Project, most arrests in New York City last year were for the shocking and horrifying crime of… trying to ride a train without paying the fare?
These clearly terrifying criminals who couldn’t afford the $2.75 fare — while possibly attempting to get home, or to work — struck so many times that they made up 29,198 of the arrests made by the New York City Police Department in 2015.
The organization also reported that the majority of these arrests occur when officers, often in plainclothes, hide in places on subway platforms outside people’s line of vision and wait around for someone trying to sneak onto the train. Many believe that this is probably not the best use of time and resources.
The arrests, for “farebeating” or “theft of services,” were also a disproportionate 92% people of color.
“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.”
While the NYPD claims that they do not force their officers to meet quotas, many officers have spoken out about the fact that they are still forced to “meet numbers.”
“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.”
As PROP pointed out, and common sense would dictate, those who cannot afford to pay the $2.75 to get around town are far more likely to be low-income people who can be financially crippled even further by the fines after their arrests.
“The theft of services arrests frequently result in the defendant spending a day or two in jail. At arraignment the judge often imposes a fine that the defendant likely cannot pay, which adds to her/his economic stress,” PROP’s report stated.
Each misdemeanor arrest costs taxpayers approximately $1,750, PROP noted. This means that the 29,198 arrests over $2.75 fares cost approximately $51,000,000.
Recently, the MTA announced that it is okay for riders with unlimited passes to swipe in other riders, as long as the swipes aren’t solicited while committing “prohibited conduct.”
To help out fellow New Yorkers, both taxpayers and people who cannot afford the train, PROP is pushing a #SwipeItForward initiative and urging people to swipe someone in after their rides.
— Ash J (@AshAgony) May 11, 2016