Advocates hope a judge’s order requiring the NYPD to release data on fare evasion arrests will help them prove enforcement falls hardest on minority groups.
State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron on Monday ordered the Police Department to hand over the station-by-station arrest data in response to a Freedom of Information Law request by City Councilman Rory Lancman and the Community Service Society of New York.
Engoron pooh-poohed the NYPD’s argument that releasing the data will give criminals the information they need to evade law enforcement.
“This court cannot conceive that criminals would read these statistics like gamblers would read the Daily Racing Form to determine where next to pick pockets and mug riders,” Engoron said.
Lancman’s FOIL request was spurred by the fact that year-in, year-out, about 90% of people arrested for fare evasion are people of color. The council passed a law requiring the NYPD to turn over the data, but police brass refused to comply.
“It is unacceptable that fare evasion is enforced almost exclusively against people of color, and I expect this data to help us bring about real change," Lancman said in a statement.
In a statement, NYPD spokeswoman Devora Kaye said the department is working with the city Law Department “to review the decision and our options.”
Kaye noted that the NYPD already posts a range of data on arrests by transit district, including quarterly reports on total arrests for fare-beating, the top ten fare-beating arrest stations, the top 100 stations where enforcement occurs by race, age and gender, and the number of desk appearance tickets issued by transit district.