Wouldn't it be great if they were also there when people are killed by unlicensed and intoxicated drivers?
Yeah, it pretty much would.
The New York Observer reports that, "[e]ach year, there are upwards of 3,500 serious injuries resulting from traffic accidents. The NYPD has ten times as many officers, yet it only assigns 19 of them to look into such incidents and investigates less than 1 in 10 as a result. Even then, investigations take place only when those involved are dead or believed to be dying. Sometimes they die without an investigation because on the scene, officers believe the injured will make it."
Several City Council members have proposed legislation to change these statistics and make sure that drivers who operate their vehicles recklessly and illegally will face the full weight of a police investigation. As it stands now, many drivers—even those whose actions result in fatalities—walk away without so much as a moving violation ticket.
Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield says, "“It’s actually a perverse system. In the city of New York, what we’re telling you is you can be a reckless driver, you can be a drunk driver, you can be an unlicensed driver, you can mow people over and nothing is going to happen to you."
Gothamist reports that the following proposals have been brought up by Councilmembers:
"A resolution calling on the NYPD to "ensure that any time a motor vehicle causes a cyclist to be injured, regardless of whether or not there was contact between the vehicle and bicycle, all of the motor vehicle's identifying and insurance information is provided to the responding officer."
"A resolution calling on the AIS to thoroughly investigate all accidents involving serious injury, even if the victim is not likely to die. This is already the law in New York State, but the NYPD patrol guide only requires investigations when the victim is deemed likely to die.
"A resolution calling on the NYPD to train at least five officers in each precinct to conduct thorough investigations of accidents resulting in serious injuries.
" A requirement that the NYPD post detailed traffic-related data online, breaking it down by borough and precinct, and even enabling users to search by intersection. The City Council wants the NYPD to post details about the number of moving violations issued, broken down by type of summons; the number of traffic crashes (updated monthly); the number of motorists and injured passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians involved; and details about how often AIS investigators appear at a crash site, and whether summons were issued."
The problem with the City Council members proposal is that, even if passed, it is not enforceable. In order for these policies to be enacted, the mayor and the NYPD need to get behind the measures.
And, as with basically every policy that he's ever enacted—no matter WHAT the public response to it was—the mayor's office is positive that he is doing things in EXACTLY the right way and that, really, we should all be happy that he is the mayor and takes care of us better than anyone else ever could have in the entire history of the world.
What the Mayor's office actually said in an email was, "Many like to criticize, but traffic fatalities are at the lowest level in city history and we now have 30,000 fewer injury crashes per year—30,000 fewer per year—than we did a decade ago. Those results did not happen by accident—it’s due to the aggressive enforcement and safety work of the NYPD and the traffic engineering work the Department of Transportation.”
And, okay. It's wonderful that the streets are safer. It really is. But that's not the issue, is it? The issue is that when a tragedy does occur, it should get investigated and the party at fault should be held accountable.
Because when you hear the testimonies of people like Jake Stevens, who lost his wife Clara Heyworth to a drunk and unlicensed driver last year, or that of Jay Deter, whose father Ray was struck by a man who admitted to speeding at the time of the accident and had marijuana in his car, your heart breaks.
It breaks not just for the loss of these two people and for all the other people who are tragically killed, but for the absurdity of a system that feels entitled to stop thousands of men a year with a policy that is supposed to act as deterrence (stop-and-frisk) but when something horrifying actually happens, they step back and fail to charge anyone.
What kind of deterrence is that?