It seems like everyone hates subway break dancers—and loves talking about how much they hate subway breakdancers—but I’ve actually never minded them (unless they’re wasting time on hat work, which is an obvious cop-out). What else are you doing on the subway that’s so important that you can’t let somebody do a nice dance for you? In any case, a victory for the haters: the Times reports that arrests of all “peddlers and panhandlers” in the subway system have tripled from the same time last year with 247 arrests thus far in 2014, as compared to 90 during the same period in 2013.
The uptick is part of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s return to his 90’s-era “broken windows” strategy of cracking down on smaller crimes in a bid to cut general lawlessness off at the knees. “If you take care of the little things, then you can prevent a lot of the big things,” Bratton has said. It seems he’s also applied a similar policy to law enforcement in housing projects:
“Police statistics also indicate a noticeable spike in arrests for low-level violations in public housing developments. On New York City Housing Authority property, arrests for felonies are down nearly 5 percent and arrests for misdemeanors are nearly flat. But arrests for violations — a category that includes drinking beer in public and riding a bike on the sidewalk — has increased by more than 21 percent.”
The rise in lower-level arrests stands in stark contrast to the steep drop-off of stop-and-frisk arrests (and it’s worth noting, as the Times points out, that under Ray Kelly it would have been a whole lot harder to access these kinds of statistics in the first place). So far this year murders are down 18.5 percent (with an assist from the crippling cold weather, we’d bet) and robberies have gone down as well, though there’s been a small increase in felony assaults. This is either a sad or a glorious turn of events depending on your subway-dancing stance, but at the very least, we can all agree that a crackdown on subway preachers is a dream come true.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.