The NYPD maintains a Real Time Crime Center, a network of thousands of closed circuit cameras, radiation detectors, X-ray vans, and technology that can instantly pinpoint the location of gunshots. “We must have 21st Century tools to deal with 21st Century threats," Mayor de Blasio said, while announcing the purchase of 41,000 smartphones and tablets for uniformed officers. Yet the NYPD does not keep track of the 38,000 hit-and-run crashes that happened this year alone.
According to the police, 34,000 of those crashes damaged property, and 4,000 others caused injuries; 48 of those were deemed "catastrophic," though only 28 of those "catastrophic" cases were prosecuted.
These numbers were revealed at a City Council Transportation Committee hearing yesterday by NYPD Inspector Dennis Fulton, who said the department supports a bill that would increase civil penalties for repeat hit-and-run drivers, but opposes a bill that would force the NYPD to release more information relating to hit-and-runs.
According to Streetsblog, Inspector Fulton told councilmembers that the NYPD did not have the "technical ability" to fully catalogue all of the hit-and-runs. The information the NYPD claims it cannot corral includes the location and time of the incident, whether a driver was charged or cited, and the final outcome.
The sponsor of both bills, Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, told Streetsblog that he was "stunned" by those figures, and added, "We should compel the NYPD to come up with the technology that makes this possible.”
Yet Van Bramer shouldn't have been surprised. For years, the NYPD's data collection related to traffic crashes has been abysmal. In 2012, NYPD representatives admitted they had no knowledge of any drivers who had been charged in non-fatal crashes, and admitted that they didn't investigate those cases anyway.
The next year, the department told city councilmembers that despite increasing the Collision Investigation Squad's (formerly the Accident Investigation Squad) staff by a handful of investigators, the unit was able to investigate fewer than 300 crashes, and only 10 to 30% of those ended in a summons or an arrest. (In 2012 the NYPD's homicide clearance rate was around 75%.)
In June, Mayor de Blasio set aside $100 million in the budget to hire 1,300 more police officers.
“This is a known challenge that the Vision Zero Task Force and the NYPD are working to address," Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the Mayor's Office said about the dearth of department data.
"NYPD is working on a major technological upgrade which will allow much more granular data to identify the precise location and real-time awareness of fatalities and injuries. The Vision Zero Task Force and NYPD are also working to increase the number and types of crashes that CIS responds to.”