Public drinkers got some great news today!
The New York City Police Department has instructed its officers to begin issuing civil tickets rather than criminal summonses for petty offenses like public drinking and urination. The change in policy is a striking departure from the department’s long-standing “broken-windows” strategy which involved officers aggressively pursuing even minor offenses.
The change to the NYPD’s approach to low-level crime is a result of legislative police reform efforts led by City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito. The Criminal Justice Reform Act, which passed last year, created a new system for handling minor offenses that may have resulted in open warrants or arrests in the past.
The NYPD was given a full year to come up with a set of guidelines for the change before the reform law went into effect this week. As a result of the new preference for civil over criminal summons, the city estimates that 100,000 less people a year will end up in criminal court.