Bratton on jaywalking and the menace of subway ‘acrobats’

Bill Bratton. (Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)
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Police commissioner Bill Bratton thinks New Yorkers need to stop fretting about his crackdown on jaywalking.

"In a city of 8.5 million people we’ve issued about 300 jaywalking tickets," he told a WPIX reporter this morning. "Let’s get real."

Bratton's police department has, as of early February, octupled its issuance of jaywalking tickets. The Manhattan district attorney's office is still mulling charges against a non-English-speaking 84-year-old man who was aggressively detained by police after jaywalking on the Upper West Side, near where three pedestrians had recently been killed.

The reporter asked Bratton if that widely publicized incident had prompted him to change his approach at all.

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"Not at all," he said. "That was an isolated event. … Jaywalking, I know you in the media have made a big deal out of it. We don’t make a big deal out of it."

"That story is passe," he went on. "That was a month ago. It’s not even contemporary anymore."

"I like that," laughed the reporter.

"Seriously," insisted Bratton. "This is supposed to be about breaking news. That’s an incident over a month and a half ago."

The reporter pressed on, pointing out that everyone jaywalks, including the mayor, who was famously photographed jaywalking last month.

"I applaud my precinct commanders efforts to try to use the tools available to them … but again, 300 jaywalking tickets in a city of 8.5 million people," said Bratton.

“You’re over it,” said the reporter.

"Actually, that’s a good term, get over it," said Bratton.

Separately, the reporter asked Bratton about his Tuesday night foray into the subway with Broken Windows theorist George Kelling, where they scoured the underground for "aggressive" panhandlers and sleeping straphangers.

"The issues of concern are those quality-of-life issues, the acrobats, the aggressive begging, the people manipulating the swipe cards in the turnstiles," he said. "We’re going to be having significant focus on those issues. You’ll see more police and you’ll see them more aggressively going after those so-called quality of life issues, which create fear, frustration and sometimes anger.”

So far this year, Bratton has more than tripled his department's arrests of subway pandhandlers and peddlers, including a woman selling churros

You can watch the whole interview here.