Judge says NYPD must release more subway fare evasion arrest data

A man swipes through the turnstile at the Ditmars Boulevard Station in Astoria.  Eagle  file photo by Jonathan Sperling

A man swipes through the turnstile at the Ditmars Boulevard Station in Astoria. Eagle file photo by Jonathan Sperling

By Victoria Merlino

The NYPD must release data on the number of arrests and MTA summonses made in each of New York City’s subway stations, following a Freedom of Information Law lawsuit against the NYPD from Queens Councilmember Rory Lancman and the Community Service Society of New York.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoren ordered the NYPD to release the statistics, which a City Council law requires to be posted quarterly on the NYPD website. The law, sponsored by Lancman, was created last year to address racial disparities in fare evasion enforcement. 

Around 85 percent of people arrested for fare evasion last quarter were people of color, as previously reported by the Eagle.

The law, which took effect at the beginning of this year, mandates that the NYPD post arrest data that includes the subway station and the transit bureau district in which the arrest occurred as well as the race, sex and age group of the person arrested or issued a summons.

Lancman has previously argued the pieces of data the NYPD has posted this year are not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the law, calling it a “mockery.” Data the NYPD did provide this year did not include measures like the number of people by race, sex and age group who were arrested. 

Instead the data shows the percentage of arrests that occurred at the 100 stations where the most arrests took place.

"The Court has confirmed what every New Yorker already assumed: that the NYPD must comply with the law, and that the Council and the public are entitled to the information they need to address racially biased policing in New York City,” said Lancman, chair of the Committee on the Justice System, in a statement.

“It is unacceptable that fare evasion is enforced almost exclusively against people of color, and I expect this data to help us bring about real change,” he continued. 

“Ensuring the safety of all New Yorkers comes first, and we worked diligently to release data that satisfies the intent of the legislation while taking into account security concerns,” a spokesperson for the NYPD told the Eagle. “We are working with the Law Department to review the decision and our options.”