After the first summer in which new laws directed the NYPD officers to issue civil summonses instead of criminal summonses for quality of life crimes, Mayor de Blasio's office announced yesterday that officers gave out 50,000 fewer criminal summonses for the offenses when compared to the same time period last year.
In a press release touting the results of the Criminal Justice Reform Act, the mayor and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced that there had been a 90 percent drop in criminal summonses given out for minor offenses between June 13th and October 1st of this year when compared to the same time period last year, from 55,224 to 4,370.
And while there were 50,000 fewer criminal summonses over that time, police opted to give 26,154 civil summonses over the same time period. Rather than opening an era of accepted public drinking and littering, the mayor's office suggested that "a dip in enforcement is common during a transition to new policies."
The CJRA was passed by the City Council last year and went into effect this summer. The laws directed the NYPD to give out civil summonses instead of criminal ones for littering, public urination, public consumption of alcohol, breaking certain park rules, and making excessive noise. If given a civil summons, offenders can either pay a fine or challenge the ticket at the city's Office of Administrative Hearings, rather than having to spend a day in criminal court and winding up with a warrant if the court appearance was skipped.
In some cases, such as when an individual is on parole or probation, has two or more felony arrests in the previous two years or three unanswered civil summonses in the past eight years, officers can still issue a criminal summons.
"This historic decrease in criminal summonses is proof that meaningful criminal justice reform is possible without any cost to public safety or order," Mark-Viverito said in the press release.
Mayor de Blasio also made sure to point out that even as the shift to civil enforcement instead of criminal was taking place, it did not lead to an uptick in serious crime.
"This summer’s results of record-low crime, paired with record-low summonses, show that we can smartly enforce key low-level offenses without sacrificing New Yorkers’ quality of life or safety," de Blasio said.
According to the Times, most of the civil summonses given out were for public drinking, with 12,000 given out for open container violations. One resident of Corona, Queens, told the paper that while he still sees plenty of police on patrol, "they’re only giving out tickets for people who get rowdy."