Attorney General James investigates NYPD targeting of people of color on subways

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NEW YORK (NEWS10) — Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation Monday into alleged NYPD practices, requesting documentation of coordination with the MTA for enforcing fare evasion laws. Her letter to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea asks for fare evasion data to determine whether the police preyed on people of color through regulations on theft of services violations on public transit.

James’ letter to Shea requests:

  • The daily number of officers assigned to every station in the city;
  • Any arrangements between the NYPD and MTA about enforcement
  • Policy and training protocol of officers on fare evasion enforcement; and
  • Data on relevant notices, summonses, and arrests broken down by race and age.

Accounting for just over half the city’s population, black and Hispanic New Yorkers received almost 70% of civil summonses and 90% of arrests for fare evasion between October 2017 and June 2019. Officer testimony alleges that from at least 2015 and through until today, racial profiling and over-policing have plagued New York’s public transit system.

“We’ve all read the stories and seen the disturbing videos of men, women, and children being harassed, dragged away, and arrested by officers in our city’s subway system,” James said. “If groups of New Yorkers have been unfairly targeted because of the color of their skin, my office will not hesitate to take legal action.”

In sworn statements, officers past and present testified that police followed unofficial policy marking black and Hispanic individuals for surveillance and citations based on low-level subway violations like unpaid fares. The Civil Rights Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office prioritizes laws protecting New Yorkers from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.

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