Cops on Public Transportation

I wrote a post about American moral panics about fare evasion two months ago, which was mirrored on Streetsblog. I made a mistake in that post that I’d like to correct – and yet the correction itself showcases something interesting about why there are armed police on trains. In talking about BART’s unique belts-and-suspenders system combining faregates with proof-of-payment fare inspections, I complained that BART uses armed police to conduct inspections, where the German-speaking world happily uses unarmed civilians. BART wrote me back to correct me – the inspections are done by unarmed civilians, called ambassadors. The armed cops on the trains are unrelated.

I’d have talked about my error earlier, but I got the correction at the end of November. The American Christmas season begins around Thanksgiving and ends after Sylvester, and in this period both labor productivity and news readership plummet; leave it to Americans to have five weeks a year of low productivity without giving workers those five weeks in vacation time. With that error out of the way – again, BART conducts inspections with unarmed ambassadors, not armed cops – it’s worth talking about why, then, there are armed cops on trains at all, and what it means for fare enforcement.

The answer to the “why armed cops on the train?” question is that among the broad American public, the police is popular. There are hefty differences by party identification, and in the Bay Area, the opinions of Republicans are mostly irrelevant, but even among Democrats; there are also hefty differences by race, but blacks are at their most anti-police divided on the issue. A Pew poll about trust in institutions asks a variety of questions about the police, none of which is “would you like to see more cops patrol the subway?”, but the crosstabs really don’t scream “no.” Vox cites a poll by Civis Analytics that directly asks about hiring more police officers, and even among black people the results are 60-18 in favor. In New York, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill had positive net approval among all racial groups shortly before leaving office, the lowest rate being 43-28 among Hispanics.

The crosstabs only go so far, and it’s likely that among certain subgroups the police is much less popular, for example black millennials. It’s normal for a popular institution to still generate intense opposition from specific demographic, class-based, or ideological groups, and it’s even normal for a popular institution to be bad; I should know, Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker is one of America’s most popular governors and yet his do-nothing approach to infrastructure planning makes him unpopular at TransitMatters. But this doesn’t change the fact that, as a positive rather than normative statement, the police enjoys consensus support from the urban American public.

What this means is that there are cops on the subway in New York and on BART not because of an inherent necessity of the fare collection system, but because in the eyes of the people who run these systems, crime is a serious concern and having more cops around is the solution. Evidently, BART layers cops on top of two distinct fare enforcement mechanisms – fare barriers and the ambassadors. In New York, too, NYPD’s justification for arresting people for jumping the turnstiles is that a significant fraction of them have outstanding warrants (many of which are about low-level offenses like being behind on court payments).

I bring this up because there’s a growing argument on the American left that public transportation should be free because that way people won’t be arrested for fare-dodging. This argument slides in an assumption, all too common to socialists who are to the left of the mainline liberal or social democratic party, that there is a leftist majority among the public that is just waiting to be activated by a charismatic leader rejecting neoliberal or otherwise moderate political assumptions.

But in the real world, there is no such leftist majority. The median voter even in a very left-wing area like New York or San Francisco may not support the more violent aspects of tough-on-crime politics, but is mostly okay with more police presence. The average self-identified leftist may be more worried that having police patrols will lead to more brutality than that not having them will lead to more crime, but the average self-identified leftist is not the average voter even in the Bay Area.

In this reality, there are cops on the subway because a lot of people worry about crime on the subway and want to see more police presence. The cops themselves, who are well to the right of the average voter pretty much anywhere, may justify this in terms of fare beating, but what matters is what voters near the median think, and they worry about ordinary property and violent crime. Those worries may well be unfounded – for one, New York is very safe nowadays and has been getting steadily safer, so the recent binge of hiring more cops to patrol the subway is a waste of money – but so long as voters have them, there will be police patrols.

The upshot is twofold. First, fare enforcement and the politics of criminal justice have very little to do with each other. Cops patrol crowded public spaces that require payment to enter, like the subway, as they do crowded public spaces that do not, like city squares. If public transportation fares are abolished, cops will likely keep patrolling subway stations, just as they patrol pieces of transportation infrastructure that are fare-free, like the concourses of major train stations.

If the left succeeds in persuading more people that the police is hostile to their interests and the city is better off with less public police presence, then cops will not patrol either the subway or most city squares. In the future, this is not outside the realm of possibility – in fifteen years the popularity of same-sex marriage in the US went from about 2-to-1 against to 2-to-1 in favor, and the trend in other democracies is broadly similar. But in New York and San Francisco in 2020, this is not the situation.

And second, fare enforcement can be conducted with unarmed inspectors regardless of the political environment. Multiple Americans who express fear of crime have told me that inspections have to be done with armed police, because fare beaters are so dangerous they would never submit to an unarmed inspector. And yet, even in San Francisco, where a large fraction of the middle class is worried about being robbed, inspections are done without weapons.

I’ve recurrently told American cities to tear down the faregates. BART’s belts-and-suspenders fare enforcement is unnecessary, borne of a panic rather than of any calculation of costs and benefits to the system. But what BART should get rid of is not the ambassadors, but the faregates. The most successful transit city the rough size of San Francisco – Berlin – has no faregates and leaves most stations unstaffed to reduce costs. Berlin encourages compliance by making it easier to follow the law, for example by offering cheap monthly passes, rather than by hitting passengers in the face with head-level fare barriers.

If cops patrol the subway because most voters and most riders would prefer it this way, then there is no need to connect the politics of policing with the technical question of what the most efficient way to collect fares is. There is a clear best practice for the latter, and it does not involve faregates in a rapid transit system with fewer than multiple billions of annual riders. What the police does is a separate question, one that there is no reason to connect with how to raise money for good public transportation.

34 comments

  1. Ken Hammer (@kendog52361)

    I would point out that another, big, reason for armed cops on the “trains”, whether subways or not, is due to the threat of terrorism. Sure, they odds of a bomber or active shooter striking at any particular time is “low”, as we’ve seen in previous years, in Madrid and London, it’s not unheard of for terrorists to target transit. Also, if there is an incident, I would think it’s preferred for the officers who are responding to be those who are trained and fully aware of the unique aspects of trains, versus your average “city cop”, who hasn’t had any training on trains, and their unique tactical and spacing aspects.

    That’s not even getting into things like if there’s a fire, or other accident, “transit cops” are more likely to have the needed training to get to and open the trains, while avoiding becoming casualties themselves, such as by stepping on the “third/power rail”, amongst other possible issues.

    • Alon Levy

      In the US people do not argue terrorism as a justification for transit police or city cops on the subway; for one, the cops in question are not trained in counterterrorism.

  2. Martin

    Much of the party for more eyes on trains is due to open drug use. There’s a group dedicated to ranting about it, and you don’t have to scroll more than a week to see some. https://www.facebook.com/groups/442393442578497/

    Sadly, this happens on the streets too, but people smoking crack seem to get off on defying authority.

    • Alon Levy

      Never mind that, on the RER there was once someone smoking a fucking cigarette, inside the train, because if you don’t die of lung cancer you’re not really French.

    • Alon Levy

      Yeah, many do. But many others do not, even ones where locals assure me there is so much crime you can’t catch fare dodgers without arming cops with machineguns and rocket launchers or something.

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  4. Alex B.

    Alon, you might think the question of how to enforce fares is purely a technical one, but sadly it is not. The politics around American transit funding and fare enforcement make it a political question.

    • Alon Levy

      Yeah, and it’s a political question on which there is no leftist majority nor anything approaching it, regardless of what happens to fares. DSA, BLM, and other New Left orgs* don’t get that they’re overreaching, and this is especially endemic to DSA, which thinks it’s representing a majority rather than a minority. There are cops in public spaces and always will be, and in areas with high fears of crime or terrorism those cops (or soldiers) will be heavily armed.

      *Yes, DSA is 100% New Left in praxis, demographics, etc., even if it cosplays as Old Left.

  5. Jed

    I think your column reflects a lack of familiarity with the BART system and its ridership. BART recovers nearly 70% of its operating costs from fares. Whether you agree with BART’s fare structure/funding mechanisms or not, the agency is much more reliant on fare revenue than other transit systems, which is why it takes a harder line on fare enforcement than even its neighboring system in SF. Secondly it’s no secret to most BART riders that violent crime is a significant problem in the system and has discouraged frequent and occasional riders from riding BART. It’s no longer a ‘perception’ issue. When unarmed transit employees (train operators, station agents, fare inspectors, community service officers, customer service ambassadors) and the riding public are being physically assaulted by fare-evading passengers, clearly the system has public safety issues that necessitate more than just unarmed security. BART’s police force has been chronically understaffed for the last decade, and during that time, violent crime in the system has grown significantly. You can ask any BART passenger, and they’ll tell you that they rarely, if ever, see a BART police officer in the system. So, in other words, BART has already tried your hands-off approach to safety. You need to understand the ridership, the culture, and the unique circumstances of a region before making simple (and somewhat irrelevant) comparisons with European and Asian cities.

    • Alon Levy

      The farebox recovery you’re citing is pretty standard in my part of the world, and the main cultural difference is that BART is run by incompetent people who enjoy not running off-peak and weekend service and don’t know what fare integration is.

      And the BART passengers I ask mention seeing armed cops routinely. Maybe you don’t; you’re not the only person in San Francisco.

  6. Jacob Manaker

    Slight typo (I think):

    …leave it to Americans to have five weeks a year of low productivity without giving workers those five years in vacation time.

    You mean weeks, I presume?

  7. Paul

    It surprises me that anyone is complaining about armed police on BART. I commuted on BART for 4 years and can count on one hand the number of times I saw a cop (or ambassador) on a train. Mostly BART Police sit in their cars in the station parking lots and do occasional sweeps of the lot to write parking tickets. Never understood why the transit police had cars, either. It’s better for public perception if they move between stations on the trains and anything that actually requires a car (e.g. rapid response, pursuing suspects) probably warrants a call to the local city police.

    • Alon Levy

      First, the ambassadors only began checking tickets in 2018, and it won’t surprise me if those checks are infrequent, because there are faregates. (Of note, Paris supposedly has ticket checks even on the Métro, but I lived in the city 2.5 years without ever seeing one, whereas in the ungated parts of the RER I got checked every ~2 weeks.)

      Second, American cops think riding public transportation is beneath them. It’s not just cops, either, the civilian eagle team on SBS in New York moves around by SUV and holds the bus during inspections. It comes down to a national culture of transit managers who move in circles in which everyone owns a car and people only use public transportation for 9-to-5 commuting; planning jobs routinely require people who apply to them to have a driver’s license.

  8. Henry Miller

    Transit police is needed to protect shy women from being molested. I don’t know how common this really is, but I’ve seen numerous reports from various parts of the world that suggests it is real. Perception is reality so I want everyone with authority trained in recognizing the signs. I’ll accept being late to whatever if it is required to ensure girls (which might be my family) can ride safely.

  9. HalMallon

    In NYC, NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau (CT) DO patrol the subways…I do not know if the subway patrols are part of the Transit Bureau or the main NYPD; however, CT is in the system on a regular basis on uniformed patrols…

  10. Reedman Bassoon

    BART has fares based on distance and requires swiping-in and swiping-out. On-board fare-checks would work to verify that people swiped-in, but it wouldn’t do anything about the swiping-out question. Also, BART has had a couple of high-profile crime problems that made the public want additional enforcement: 1) the parking lots have had excessive car break-ins [exacerbated by a new California law which made any theft of <$1000 a misdemeanor, and unless you could PROVE your car was locked, made any charges moot, even if your car window was broken], 2) a couple of teen-gang mass attacks/thefts on entire BART cars of travelers, and 3) excessive revelry, especially on late nights [the pinnacle being the FRUITVALE incident].

    • Richard Mlynarik

      BART has a moral panic which is 100% fabricated.

      If the fare gate vendors and consultants and “station hardening” construction mafiosi and police unions aren’t behind this, they’re idiots (and they’re not, at least not where self-dealing is concerned), because turning out a handful of Concerned CItizens, feeding a couple old conservative suburb-oriented newspaper columnists, and buying off a couple affluent white suburban politicians results in MASSIVE MASSIVE MASSIVE payback: millions returned on every dollar invested. Investing in stock market is for losers when you can own a public agency.

      It’s aloo working out really well, too: ridership’s down, service is declining, costs are riding faster than revenues, fares are insupportably high, there is zero cost/benefit data to support the expenses (capital and personnel) being pissed away, and station access keeps getting less convenient and slower. And there are still brown and black people on the trains, OMG, so there’s still work to do — ie money that needs to make it’s way from the “public” “transportation” agency into private pockets.

      OH NO SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE IS GETTING AWAY WITH SOMETHING. *SOMETHING* MUST BE DONE! DO SOMETHING! A MISCREANT DIDN’T PAY A FARE — SEAL OFF THE BLOCK AND ROUND UP ANYBODY SUSPICIOUS LOOKING.

      Every private shop in California needs to hardened into a fortresses against shoplifting and “excessive revelry” (excessive revelry!) because small amounts of stealing couldn’t ever possibly be tolerated, and couldn’t possibly be regarded as an avoidable and manageable cost of doing business. 0% tolerance for miscreants! Lock ’em up! Body scanners at every store entrance! It’s the only safe way.

      Repeat: SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE IS GETTING AWAY WITH SOMETHING! For the love of God, DO SOMETHING!

      • Michael James

        Surely it is self-policing? In my city if you don’t swipe as you exit, the next time you swipe on boarding, your card gets debited the maximum fare possible for that previous ride, ie. as if you rode to the terminus, which easily adds $5 in the distance-based system. Some times the card reader doesn’t work properly but you don’t get much sympathy if you appeal. Yet another reason for flat fares, because on their own logic passengers swiping off have to be attentive to the display on the machine to verify it has registered correctly, which of course means disembarking pax is a lot slower than it should be. Stupid. But blame the car & road lobby who are obsessed about “cost recovery” of transit, even as they ride for free on endless billions of dollars of freeways etc.

        • Tonami Playman

          This swipe in swipe out business also creates a huge bottleneck in passenger flow. I’ve been riding bart for the past 3 yrs and my current exit station is the Dublin/Pleasanton to connect to my once hourly express bus to work in a sprawling suburban office park. Dublin/Pleasanton, Pittsburg and other termini stations are prime candidates for faregate removal. This is a picture of the single entrance to Dublin/Pleasanton Bart. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/East_Dublin_-_Pleasanton_BART_station_2536_11.JPG/1280px-East_Dublin_-_Pleasanton_BART_station_2536_11.JPG

          There are 8 regular size gates and 1 larger size universal entry gate for wheel chair acces. The white arrow on green dot motif and the white dash on red dot motif indicate the active direction for entry or exit. The indicators are switched between morning and evening peaks. In the image, 6 of the regular gates are set up for exit only and 2 for entry only. The Large universal access gate to the right is always bidirectional.

          The biggest crunch happens on evening peaks when hoards of surbanbanites are returning home from San Francisco. Usually the 10car trains empty about 1000 passengers and it takes 2 minutes to clear the platforms, but then an endless queue forms at the exit gates. It takes roughly 3 seconds to tap out and exit the gate for the next person to repeat the process. Considering this, a single gate can handle 20 exits per minute if one ignores the sporadic malfunctions on the gates that causes further delays. There are 6 exit only regular gates plus 1 universal access gate. The universal access gate is slower and takes 4 to 5 seconds to complete the cycles. but for simplicity let’s assume it’s the same, that gives us 7 exit gates. That’s 140 exits per minute for the entire bank. In order to handle 1000 commuter exits, it needs 7mins. And a number of passengers have to connect to busses hence you see a mad dash of people getting off the train so they can make a quicker exit. The queue that forms every 15mins is not necessary.

          • michaelrjames

            Right.
            I should have been explicit that the problem I was talking about was specifically with the bus system where it fails much more than at fixed station locations like you are describing. I assume it has something to do with remote communication issues, as it sometimes requires multiple attempts or occasionally for the driver to reset the system.

  11. Seth Haberman

    I lived through the experiment where the police disregarded small crimes. Even ones that may not have mattered. It undermined the sense of order to the city. If the subway was free, or you could beat a turnstile, so was throwing garbage in the tracks, or kicking out a window. I rode the subway for four years and hour each way and the deterioration that came with ignoring the little things was manifest and destructive. It wasn’t that it was free, or that you could sneak in, it was the there was no sense of order. In Germany, order is probably the most important public sentiment, something not appreciated here in New York. It’s not only the matrons on the cars who act disapproving to fare beaters, it the preponderance of citizens who likewise express their displeasure with harumphs and coughs.

    • Alon Levy

      In Berlin, there are entire subcultures of fare beaters. They’re just too small to matter to revenue, so there’s no wholesale crackdown. The idea of Germans as somehow rulier than Americans is a weird stereotype, which may have been true a hundred years ago but really isn’t today. For example, Germans are almost as pushy at lines as Israelis, which British and even American immigrants in Berlin notice and disapprove of. For another example, Berliners commonly barge onto the train without letting people get off first, which is uncommon in New York and unheard of in the Asian cities I’ve taken trains on.

      It’s true that in other aspects Germans are more rulebound, e.g. people don’t jaywalk here much (and I’m told in Bavaria they don’t at all and yell Kindermord at people who do), but overall I don’t think there’s a systematic difference with New York. The overall regulations here are very red tape-ridden, but that’s not the same, and evidently France got rid of a lot of red tape in the last 10 years, to the point that it’s easier to start a business there than in the United States. What people choose to notice is intermediated by long-held stereotypes.

  12. Max

    Melbourne might be an interesting case study here: Our train stations are unstaffed and don’t have fare-gates outside of the central-city. There are regular (unarmed) fare inspections and consequently fare evasion is pretty low (though possibly having gates at the major CBD destinations helps). The trams follow the same model, but anecdotally I’d say there’s more evasion on the trams.

    In 2010 a conservative state government came to power in Victoria. Responding to perceived safety issues at train stations they introduced PSOs (Protective Services Officers) to every station (all 220!) in Melbourne. The PSOs are an armed security sub-branch of the police, they’re less trained but they have fewer powers and cannot operate outside of the stations. Still, every station on the network has PSOs after dark every night. The program proved very popular with the public, there were articles about how people felt safer and more likely to travel at night. Although the conservative government only lasted one term, the new leftwing Labor government continued and expanded the program, now PSOs are set to patrol trams and trains. Victoria is the most progressive state in Australia so it shows how this stuff can be popular even in progressive contexts. Even for me, having someone present at stations late at night is somewhat reassuring. Of course, the program is very expensive and for much less money they could’ve dramatically increased evening and night frequencies, which drop off a cliff in Melbourne. It’d make the stations feel safer (no waiting at the station for half an hour) and increase ridership (increasing safety by having more people around).

    • Tonami Playman

      In my years of commuting on BART, I’ve encountered the fare inspectors exactly 3 times and see the cops parading the train at least once a week. Recently a homeless lady who definitely has mental issues dragged her carryon luggage through the train cursing everybody out to her left and right as she navigated to the priority seating area where she opened up her suitcase filling the car with the aroma, proceeded to pull out a couple of blankets, then lit up a cigarette and smoked till it was exhausted. She was making loud utterances to herself while doing all this and then she cuddled under her blankets and went quietly to sleep on the chairs. It was a really cold night and the train was mighty warm.

      Now I can see a lot of BART riders feeling unsafe in that environment and advocate for more cops on BART. However the city has to deal with it’s social issue of discarded mentally ill patients and high homelessness rate. I’m glad no one in the car called the cops for the entire 30min ride that I was in there, I can’t tell what happened afterwards. I’ve also seen the open drug use on the trains and that gets even more disconcerting. But the miscreant issues on BART is just an extension of the Bay Area at large just in a more confined space that’s not as easy to ignore as jumping over feaces and needles on the sidewalks. That is a social issue that no amount of policing on BART will ever solve.

      • michaelrjames

        Good points.
        But you didn’t go into the full story, which is worth a brief explanation.
        The shortest explanation is two words: Ronnie Reagan. As both governor or CA and later POTUS, he gave California a double-dose of trouble on this front.
        In the 50s there was significant progress on drugs to reduce the worst effects of the two major behavioural disorders (Schizophrenia and bipolar-affected disorder) which together represent approx. 2% of humanity. A major review by US-NIH recommended that these advances would allow discharging most such patients out of mental health institutions (which were not much more than prisons) and into the community with careful monitoring and tailoring of an individual’s therapy. Eisenhower accepted the recommendation and this was continued in JFK’s administration which passed the CMHC Act in late 1963–one month before his assassination. LBJ continued to support the program and there were plans for 3,000 Community Mental Health Centers nationwide. The point is that these new drugs could allow many patients to live a much improved life, but they required the therapy to be very careful personalised for each patient and then to be assessed regularly, hence the need for the Community clinics.

        Two things intervened. The Vietnam war with its huge federal budget costs and the inflation it caused (some of the explosion in cost of constructing BART at this time was blamed on this too, some of which may even have been partly true) plus ex-servicemen with mental health issues that overloaded what services existed. Second, conservative politics. Reagan in CA and then Nixon federally tried to defund the program though he was foiled by a Dem congress. However as we see with ACA, any health measure requires state implementation …. Then the Carter administration reassessed and reaffirmed and refunded the program in 1977, though it was passed only months before the 1980 election. So then of course Reagan repealed the Carter act and began defunding it all in the mindless name of small government and of course the states didn’t have the will or the money to take up the deficit.

        This resulted in the closing and downsizing of federal mental hospitals. Many of the mentally ill who were ejected from hospitals became homeless because they lacked the mental skills to fend for themselves. Many of these mentally ill people end up in prison–or cycle between prison and the street–because they lack the mental skills to obey laws and follow instructions when interacting with the police, or to independently maintain therapy. An unexpected consequence of Reagan’s effort to reduce federal spending on mental hospitals is that it has increased federal spending on mental health wards in federal prisons. It turns out that if you throw the seriously mentally ill out of a mental hospital, they still need a mental hospital. They just go through the traumatizing process of becoming homeless and working their way through the prison system until their needs are met by prison mental wards (at greater cost, by organizations that should really be focused on managing criminal behaviour and not on providing mental health treatment, especially without the CMHC designed to maintain the therapy outside institutions.).

        • Nathanael

          Yep. My family personally dealt with Reagan throwing all the mentally ill out of the institutions and onto the street. Such an evil, evil man.

  13. RossB

    For a brief period in my life, I was a security guard in the U. S.. It was a closed site (an old lumber mill) and my job mainly consisted of preventing a fire, and who to call if I failed to do that (since this was located close to the middle of Seattle, this would have been a big deal). I didn’t carry a gun. The job paid minimum wage, and I had no interest in making a career out of it. But I did get to know several people who did. Most were ex military police who had served in largely friendly territory (Japan, Germany, South Dakota). One of the interesting things that I learned is that security guards that carry a gun got paid more. Most of the guys had no interest though — too much can go wrong when you have a gun.

    That is why I think that transit security should not carry a gun. The agency would likely save a little bit of money, and attract better guards. If you know that you don’t have a weapon (or your only weapon is a flashlight) you are more likely to be badass or know how to deescalate a situation (which is its own form of being badass). The famous incident of the BART security guard killing an innocent unarmed civilian wouldn’t have happened if he was only carrying a stun gun (which he thought he was using, instead of his gun). It certainly wouldn’t have happened if he simply had a club. At worse he would have hit the guy, and a few people might have got hurt — but chances are his buddy would have talked him out of that approach. (There was a good movie about the incident — definitely worth seeing).

    Likewise, fare enforcers should focus only on the fares. Asking for I. D. should only be done as a way to make out the ticket. There should be no background check just because I forgot to pay. If I’m late in returning a book, I just get a fine. The librarian doesn’t do a background check and arrest me if I have an outstanding warrant.

    Fare enforcers can be the same as security guards, of course. But their role as security guards should be minimal — they should deescalate conflicts, and only get involved if there is a problem *at that place*. They would have the power to apprehend someone (as I did — on the property I maintained) but rarely use it. Most often, they would make a call to the “real” cops.

    I also wouldn’t make an arrest for failure to pay. Ask for ID and if they don’t have one, ask for a name anyway. Then take a picture of the person. If someone tries to scam the system (by using a fake name over and over) there will at least be a picture of the guy.

  14. Nathanael

    “If the left succeeds in persuading more people that the police is hostile to their interests and the city is better off with less public police presence, then cops will not patrol either the subway or most city squares. In the future, this is not outside the realm of possibility”

    This is the reason why the public mood is going to turn against cops in NY. Probably not other places:

    The extremely high level of casual corruption is causing people who you’d normally think of as law-and-order right-wingers to become very, very anti-NYPD. It’s the corruption. People who are worried about petty crime *see the NYPD committing petty crime* — they may want more cops but they want those cops to arrest the NYPD.

    It’s taking a while for this to become the common view, but as the state of the city shifts to the point where a larger and larger percentage of the crimes in the city are actually committed by the cops (since all other categories of crime are going down, but cop-committed crime seems to be on the rise), while the cops refuse to do anything about crimes committed by their corrupt cop buddies — the social disapproval of the NYPD is going to happen, pretty much unavoidably.

    From what I can tell the SFPD is pretty clean and many of the other agencies in California which used to be super-abusive have been cleaning up their act. Not so the NYPD. So this is probably going to diverge on a city-by-city basis depending on whether the cops actually behave themselves or not.

    • Nathanael

      I should note that one of the other major activists on Twitter about NYPD corruption is a hardcore right-winger (which makes sense, if you support law and order you should want to send all of NYPD to state prison for their crimes) and, bizarrely, seems to be a Trump supporter (which does not make sense, given that Trump’s a career criminal).

      It’s going to be a bipartisan movement.

    • Alon Levy

      Eh, Streetsblog has been beating the placard abuse drum for a while and NYPD’s approval rate is perfectly cromulent.

      (Also, SFPD is… clean? What? Lol. It’s a lot more brutal than NYPD, for one.)

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