New York City has seen a significant decrease recently in the number of arrests made and traffic tickets issued. In addition to costing the city revenue, the decline is affecting bail bond companies and traffic lawyers.
Many police officers were upset by comments that Mayor Bill de Blasio made after the killings of two police officers in their patrol car on December 20. Some of de Blasio’s supporters believe the drop in arrests and tickets is the result of a work slowdown by police. Police unions deny sanctioning a slowdown.
The number of arrests for the week ending on January 4, 2015 was 2,401, down from 5,448 in the same period the previous year. In the week beginning December 22, 2013, 575 new inmates were booked in New York. The average number for that same week over the previous three years was around 1,000. Between the end of December and the beginning of January, only 618 new inmates were booked, compared to 1,041 who were processed in the last week of 2013.
Some bail bond companies are reporting a significant drop in the number of people seeking help posting bail. While larger companies might be able to endure a significant drop in business, smaller bail bond businesses could suffer disproportionately.
The number of parking and driving-related tickets issued from the end of December to the beginning of January is more than 90 percent lower than the same period last year. Traffic lawyers who help people fight fines for traffic violations, such as speeding, texting, talking on cell phones, and reckless driving, are reporting a steep decline in the number of people calling and emailing to request their services.
Some lawyers say it is too early to know if the fall in inquiries is the result of the holidays or a police slowdown. Other lawyers are seeing normal amounts of business but say that there may not be a noticeable drop in inquiries right away because many people do not seek help from a lawyer immediately after receiving a ticket.
Parking fines generated $542 million in revenue for the city in 2013. While it is significant, that is a small fraction of New York’s $75 billion annual budget. The drop in fines could affect the city’s budget, although it is too early to project the impact. Police Commissioner William Bratton said the city might actually save money by issuing fewer summonses because it would not have to pay officers overtime to go to court to testify.
De Blasio did not want to comment on whether the decline in arrests and tickets was the result of a work slowdown by police. He and Bratton said they needed more time to investigate the issue.