Thursday, December 25, 2014

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The Call Blog: Subway Panhandling Arrests Skyrocket As Police Focus On Low-Level Crimes

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I believe that "broken windows" policing works if executed appropriately and without the race of the offender being a factor. However, I do believe that people should be given a fine or summons instead of being arrested on the spot.

Your thoughts and comments are posted below.

If you ask for money on the subway system, you are also asking for trouble. The NYPD reports panhandler arrests are up dramatically through the first six months of this year. Police have made 580 arrests through June, compared to 156 at that point in 2013. That 270% increase can be attributed to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton embracing the "Broken Windows" theory of policing.

After Eric Garner died shortly after police tried to arrest him on Staten Island for selling individual cigarettes, critics of "Broken Windows" said the policy is unnecessarily aggressive. But Commissioner Bratton and Mayor de Blasio defended the practice yesterday. They believe targeting low-level crimes works to deter more serious ones. What do you say?

Have you seen fewer people asking for handouts on the subway system? Should these panhandlers be arrested for their actions? Is the "Broken Windows" theory of policing good for New York City? Have you ever been arrested or ticketed for committing a low-level crime?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

I haven`t seen fewer people, and I see some of the same ones who have been doing it for years. A show Time group checked to see if there were any cops on the train, and proceeded to do their acrobatics. I was afraid of being kicked in the face. These people take risks, hoping they won`t be caught. Rosalie from Brooklyn,


If i see a panhandler in the subway i would give that person money to buy food or i would buy them food, the people that panhandle shouldn't be arrested they should be taken to a shelter or a mental hospital because most of them are homeless. I have never been ticketed for a low level crime because i always have my metro card and i would swipe someone if they don't have the fare it's not good to cheat the MTA that's why they want to raise the fare, because the farebeaters are cheating the MTA. Comissioner Bratton needs to retrain the cops about respecting the minority people because some white cops are racists.

Upper West Side

The panhandler problem was returning toward pre-Giuliani days which was alarming, especially as we now have far more tourists than we ever had then visiting the city. I'm glad that Mr. De Blasio and Commissioner Bratton are concentrating on this problem and other, related so-called "quality of life" issues.

Upper West Side

Bratton is misinterpreting the "broken windows" theory of crime prevention. Read the Wikipedia explanation at
Re panhandling, explain to me how it is a crime, i.e. how rights are violated and how freedom is impaired, if I'm asked, accounting for inflation, if I can spare a dollar and I respond either by giving the panhandler a dollar or saying, "No." Just who's rights are violated? Just how is freedom denied to anyone? Thus, why is panhandling a crime? Virtually every human action, in one context or another, is declared by the government to be a crime. It is not recognized that government actions are the greatest crimes of all.

Port Richmond

The givers of money on the subways or any public transportation and I also include the street peddlers could be trouble for ones self. We have no idea just who we are dealing with. Dangerous situation. The story of this case is still pending and I read that this squad of officers where called to this spot because of a fight and this Garner was trying to break it up and yet now we hear about him selling loosies. He was arrested over 30 some odd times for low level crimes or misdemeanors. I do believe that by targeting low level crimes by giving a summons out the first time it should be more than enough time to make one think that the next time you get arrested. I would like to know why they even waste their time hassling with these charactertures in times square. If they are a problem then they must go. But if you all just keep making it easy for everyone then you all are defeating the purpose of "Broken Windows". To me it seems as though the perpetrators are making all the rules and they are being accommodated. I have another question and I would like to know why has it not ever been brought to the attention of us tax payers that the theft of the table and chairs in times square are stolen repeatedly every day and so they just keep replacing them. Andddddddddd No !!! I have never been arrested.

Morris Park

The number of panhandlers on subways, coupled with the homeless is the bane of the entire NYC transit system but it also speaks to a larger problem concerning homelessness from all age groups here in NYC and in many of the other cities. A recent visit to both Philly and Baltimore City reminded me of New York in the following way: Penn Station in both Philly and Baltimore as well as Washington DC had a large number of homeless and at time mentally challenged people walking about and panhandling. Our subways are overly crowded to begin with but when you have homeless people on them begging for whatever, it impacts on both the physical and mental ability of those who encounter these situations. I believe in assisting the poor, the homeless and protecting children and teens from abusive situations; but these problems have grown exponentially to the point that the problems have multiplied to the point that there is not enough real help to alleviate these problems which are multi-layered; you have a homeless person who clearly has no source of income and needs assistance only to find out that along with that problem there are psychological issues as well; treatment on any level does not come cheap much less free; couple that with the fact that that person may have a felony record which must be answered; then you find out they have children who are nowhere to be found.


The NYPD activity is a numbers game. I have no problem with non-agressive panhandling. However, the NYPD will arrest (or issue summons in lieu of arrest) to panhandlers who probably are not in the position to pay the fine. The courts will issue a bench warrant and then the panhandler's next encounter with the police will pop a warrant so the police have another arrest...return on a warrant. It is easier for an officer to put a violator through the system than issue a Desk Appearance Ticket which requires a couple hours of paperwork.
Poverty is the engine driving these low level offenses. I doubt people aspire to panhandle for a living.

Midtown East

There are many families out here who is really struggling to make ends meet, then you have people asking for money, even though they have enough to get by for a year. I completely understand. Either way, arresting them is ridiculous. Arrests = quotas. Remember.. this is only happening because the stop/frisk harassment has been halted. There's a laundry list of things really wrong with this city BRATTON/DeBLASIO really should focus on. In my area, when I see someone who seems in need, if I have a meal I can share, blanket, winter hat, scarf or gloves, I'll wrap it up like a birthday gift and take it to him or her without hesitation. A few times I were told, no thank you, but I felt good doing so. Today, I was asked by a women outside a subway for some coins for food. I told her I was unemployed so not to hurt her feelings. It saddens me and I'm so thankful at this point in my life I don't have to ask anyone for money because I wouldn't know how to begin. No doubt, everyone needs money for survival, but I don't give money because I need my coins...:-)

Financial District

I think that panhandling has increased somewhat and gotten more brazen. Indeed, I was approached by a young pregnant girl with a 6 year old child. She wanted me to give her money for milk for her child. When I asked her why not get it from the father of the child, her reply was that since "he is not here right now" that I should be responsible for her!


It happens all the time, people asking you for money in the subway, especially the people that are homeless and broke. I have also seen the police in subway stations arrest people for doing that. To me they should do more of it.


Broken windows theory is just a subsitute for the decreased use of stop and frisk have to have one if you abandon the other...its not sn aberration in what the city is trying to do its another tool for reckless cops


If broken windows are not repaired, the house eventually deteriorates. We need a sensible application of the broken window policy to quality of life in New York. Otherwise, who will want to live in a city where public spaces are feared and many neighborhoods return to their run-down conditions of the 70's and 80's?


I don't believe pan handlers should be arrested for trying to make a few dollars to survive.


I believe that the local government knows about police racial profiling however the local officials cover it up by saying that the police needs more training when in fact minorities are being targeted by their skin color, and neighborhood that they live in.


There is a reason why the city and the MTA have rules of public conduct. They are there to protect lives and maintain order in a civilized society. The MTA has a law that prohibits pan handling on their property. It doesn’t matter what social strata one comes from. The rules are to be followed by everyone.

Forest Hills

I am a Manhattan native. I think the police should spend more time keeping the peace and not waste their time on petty crimes. Sure, lots of people break minor laws, but if they are not hurting anyone, leave them alone. It only encourages bad cops to be worse.


As any earlier writer stated,the law is the law. If smoking a joint is illegal,it is illegal,whether accepted behavior in a particular area or not. Want to panhandle,get the law changed or obey it Want to dance on the train change the law or obey it. And, I was a firefighter in the Bronx in the 60's and 70's. You do not want to go back to that.

Queens Village

The broken windows theory sounds great on paper, but it never seems to work in practice.
I have the first hand experience of being arrested for what was call criminal trespass, a so called quality of life crime, after which I was strip searched twice, and spent a holiday weekend in the tombs with fourty other women and an overflowing toilet. Incidentally I'm Caucasian and was 18 years old, living with my mom on the UES when this happened, and did nothing but go into the front entrance of a building while I waited for the bus on a freezing winter day. I felt like I had been kidnapped and sent to a prison in Siberia, not Manhattan. This was during the Giuliani administration, but it scares me that we are heading back in this direction. I'm 36 now and still honestly terrified of the NYPD.

West Village

The question is not about the NYPD addressing crime it is the way they respond to each crime. The police seem to take the smallest offense and turn it into a hugely escalated confrontation that isn't necessary. Do we not know it most always costs us in the long run, much more than what it was worth to begin with? As a taxpaying law abiding citizen, the police cannot just accost me without reason, their must be a rational explanation ,other than skin color. As any man (or woman for that matter)eventually you reach your limit. Every person has a certain dignity.No other person, irrespective of authority, should trample on or abuse that truth....


the police have to crack down on quality of life issues. What about their BIG quality of life violation. Every night in virtually every neighborhood in this city, vehicles privately owned by police officers are parked illegally in bus stops, at fire hydrants, blocking crosswalks etc. They are never ticketed because they have a police parking pass---supposedly just for use near precients-- not at home.

NY1 would do a service by asking viewers to submit license plates are car descriptions. Don't dare try to look in the window to get the pass number----may wind up in a chokehold. I'll send you several #s from this neighborhood.


Why are we even discussing this? Here's a tale of two cities. The city under Gulliani and Bloomberg was safe, clean and a pleasure to live in. Period. The city under DeBlasio the minute lets up on tough policing will be dirty, crime ridden and the horror show it was in the 80s. Who wants that?

Brooklyn Heights

All the callers like Brian that say the broken window concept and the stop and frisk works, I wonder if what happened to Mr. Garner and Mr Amador Diallo who were innocent and doing absolutely nothing ended up dead if it happened to them while just walking home if they would feel the same way. Stop and frisk and broken window concept might work If done correctly. And can they explain the officer's blatant disregard for life by waving into the camera and smiling after?


It's just a new way to get at stop and frisk without calling it so. The problem is they are attacking people getting by as opposed to the hard core criminals.

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