NYPD Stops Arresting People for Minor Crimes in Manhattan

A number of offenses that could have landed New Yorkers in handcuffs will now result in just a summons. 

People who commit low-level crimes — like littering, public urination, taking up two subway seats or public consumption of alcohol — will no longer be subject to arrest in Manhattan starting Monday.

Before Monday's policy went into effect, officers had to arrest someone committing a low-level crime if he or she had an open summons. More than 1 million New Yorkers have open summonses for failing to appear in court, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced on Tuesday that people who commit minor offenses in the borough would be issued summonses rather than being slapped in cuffs, unless there is a demonstrated public safety reason to arrest a suspect.

The three officials said that the move could result in 10,000 fewer cases a year and will free up NYPD officers to investigate more serious offenses.

"Through this initiative, we are devoting our resources to best protect and serve New Yorkers," Vance said. "By ensuring courts are not unnecessarily bogged down with minor offenses committed by those who pose no threat to public safety, we help focus police and prosecutorial resources on those who commit serious crimes." 

Offenders with open warrants will still be taken into custody but will only have to deal with a summons, not a new criminal case.

Under the new policy, which goes into effect on Monday, the Manhattan DA's office won't prosecute violations like public consumption of alcohol, public urination and subway offenses like riding between train cars. 

They'll still prosecute other minor violations and crimes that would currently not automatically result in an arrest, such as driving while impaired. 

Some in the city say they were worried that the change would cause quality of life to dip.

"I can see people littering and taking advantage and maybe urinating and doing all the other things," said Carlos Cuevas of Inwood. "I hope for the best."

The New York City Civil Liberties Union applauded the move but said other boroughs would benefit more from the policy change, which only applies to Manhattan. 

"Manhattan is not the center where most of these offenses are being enforced," said Johanna Miller. "We see the most aggressive enforcement in communities of color and mostly in the outer boroughs."

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