NYPD Cracks Down on Subway Dancers, Arrests Spike

Nearly 50 subway break dancers have been charged with reckless endangerment this year for performing on trains amid an NYPD crackdown on quality-of-life nuisances in the transit system.

Officials say 46 dancers -- typically performers who swing from bars and do tricks over the heads of commuters -- have been charged this year with reckless endangerment, compared to two dancers charged with that count last year.

Another 50 or so dancers have been charged with a lesser count of disorderly conduct, officials say. In past years, most subway dancers who were arrested were given that charge.

To find and arrest the dancers who fly through the air in often-crowded train cars, police are partly relying on rider complaints. Officials say the MTA is now immediately relaying complaints to the NYPD, allowing officers to go out in real time to find them.

It's train riders like Elaine Michaels who find subway dancers a nuisance.

"You're getting hit, you're getting smacked," she said. "It's bad enough on the subway cars when it's crowded, you don't need someone doing acrobatics." 

But many riders get another kind of a kick -- the fun kind -- out of watching the performances. 

"I just think it's awesome," said Matt Rudnitsky of the Lower East Side. "I've never seen anyone actually endangered by it." 

Police are also cracking down on panhandling and selling goods without a license.

Subway panhandling arrests are up 271 percent over last year, with 371 arrests in 2014 over 100 by this period last year.

And 120 people have been arrested for illegal peddling, up from 66 by this date last year.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton says the 5.5 million people who ride the subways each day "have the right to expect a ride that's hassle-free." 

"Those activities just create a sense of fear, or that we're not paying attention  to disoder," he said. "We are paying a lot of attention to disorder." 

--Andrew Siff contributed to this story

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