Arrests of panhandlers and peddlers in the subway have tripled since William Bratton became police commissioner, a crackdown that the New York City Police Department says is a result of increased complaints from riders. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
It's something commuters have to deal with almost every day: panhandlers and peddlers in the subway system.
"I try not to let it bother me," said one rider. "I think sometimes, when they're doing flips, listening to music doing flips right in front of your face, it gets a little intimidating."
Those who roam the subways looking to make a buck are being arrested more now under Police Commissioner William Bratton. In fact, there have been 274 arrests of panhandlers and peddlers in the first two months of the year, more than three times as many as the same time last year.
Some riders don't think the arrests are necessary.
"No, not arrested," said one rider. "If I have change, I'll usually give it if it's convenient, but I don't think you should arrest them."
"I think it's kind of messed up that they're arresting people that are trying to make a dollar," said another.
"I don't think so at all," said a third. "I mean, it's really hard out here in New York City to live as it is, and to me, if they have to do it, they have to do it. What can you do?"
Bratton believes that arresting people for smaller crimes like panhandling prevents larger crimes from happening. Other subway riders are on board with that.
"It is a law," said one rider. "I feel bad for them, but it's something that you have to do. They're on the trains making all kinds of noise and asking for money, and it's just very uncomfortable."
Others NY1 spoke with think there may be a better way to enhance quality of life underground with the help of the New York City Police Department.
"Maybe having their presence here might help control that a little bit more," said one person.
"Not really arresting people, but just maybe kicking them off the train," said another.
Another commuter said that he understands the need for the increased arrests but admitted to giving money to people who ask for it in the subways, saying that he sees both sides of it.