When the cops know only some of the rulesBy
The cops who patrol the subways have been busy these days — or should I say these nights? They haven’t been busy stopping quality-of-life crimes that happen during the crowded rush hour commutes. Rather, they have been busy ticketing passengers late at night for not actually violating MTA regulations and subway rules.
The Post’s Tom Namako and Kirsten Fleming have highlighted the NYPD’s recent late-night ticketing blitz focusing on straphangers who take up more than one seat. It’s an outrageous tale, but it doesn’t fully connect the dots. The cops are giving out tickets for offenses that just aren’t offensive.
The two reporters tracked down two recent victims of the NYPD’s ticketing efforts. Josh Stevens, a student at FIT who was ticketed on back-to-back nights in November, says on the first night, he was stretched out on two seats and on the second, took up two seats when he crossed his legs. The NYPD officer who issued the summons said the increased enforcement was due to a quota.
“After the second time, I asked the officer, ‘Really, what’s going on? Why is this happening?’ ” Stevens said to Namako and Fleming. “And he told me, ‘Recently we’ve been told to write tickets instead of give warnings for this type of thing.’ He said they need to hit quotas.”
Andres Azamora was summonsed for having his legs splayed out in front of him — at 2:30 a.m. on an empty train. “There was no one else in the subway with me,” he said. “They just want to make money.”
Writes Namako and Felming, “MTA rules — which are enforced by the NYPD’s Transit division — say a passenger may not ‘occupy more than one seat’ or ‘place his or her foot on a seat.'” That’s not all these rules say. In fact, while this story makes the NYPD look petty, the real problem though is how the NYPD is blatantly flouting the MTA’s own Rules and Regulations.
Section 1050.7 of the MTA’s Rules of Conduct concern disorderly conduct, and section j involves passengers and the seats to which they are entitled. A passenger shall not “(1) occupy more than one seat on a station, platform or conveyance when to do so would interfere or tend to interfere with the operation of the Authority’s transit system or the comfort of other passengers;” and may not “(2) place his or her foot on a seat on a station, platform or conveyance.”
As the rule makes clear, a foot on a seat is an automatic offense, but passengers may occupy more than one seat if they are not interfering with the comfort of other passengers and the operations of the subway. If Alzamora and Stevens are telling the truth, the cops are ignoring the rules. They’re writing tickets for actions that aren’t violations.
So far this year, police have issued 784 summonses, and that number far surpasses 2008’s 760. Even though the NYPD’s Transit division isn’t run by the MTA, the authority will look guilty by association and will have to deal with another blow to its beleaguered public image. It’s time to reign in this irresponsible behavior. Cops should know the rules, and anyone who receives a ticket for stretching on an empty train at 2:30 a.m. should fight that ticket as hard as they can.
Why are NYPD officers targeting late-night victimless offenses when mid-day harassment and groping incidents go ignored if not to meet a quota? Plenty of people interfere with passenger comfort and space by spreading out when the trains are full. Late-night enforcement though catches people who aren’t violating the MTA’s regulations. If only the police were this vigilant during the day, the ride would be nicer for all.