The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Friday, September 09, 2005


This post is dedicated to CFM

Everyone must know about this issue and we're sure everyone has an opinion. The original story can be found here. It looks as if the reporter who wrote the story is the only one who has an issue with what 5-0 is doing. Record reporter Franco notes:

This paper reported that over the last three years police arrested 274 people for jaywalking, about 274 more than in Schenectady and Albany combined, and arrested 88 people for not having the proper bicycle equipment, again about 88 more than the neighboring cities.

It just so happens 76 percent of the illegal walkers were black or Hispanic, as were 75 percent of the illegal bike riders.

The official word is that there is a zero tolerance policy in areas of the city where street crime is more frequent, and since minorities are majorities in those areas, that is why there is such a high percentage of minorities arrested.

So it may or may not be technically profiling, but if you peel back a layer, it looks more like they are picking up people for the minor violations as an excuse to look into their pockets and check their record to see if there are any outstanding warrants.

One thing that leads me to that conclusion is jaywalking and riding a bike without proper equipment are violations. There is no need to slap cuffs on people and drag them into the station for a violation. In the bike cases they actually confiscate the bikes. If a person is ticketed for running a red light, they are pulled over, given a ticket and sent on their merry way. Not so for a black guy riding a bike without a bell.Police are fishing in the high-crime areas, but the pond is not as well-stocked as one might imagine. Of the 362 arrests for jaywalking and bike violations, there were only 110 instances where other charges were levied and the majority of those were for other minor violations like possessing small quantities of marijuana, littering, loitering or spitting.

We like the "zero-tolerance" policy in high-crime neighborhoods. We would hope there is a "zero-tolerance" policy in every neighborhood. Still, that's beside the point.

Here, the police are not necessarily profiling, they're using minor violations as a pretext to nab people on more serious charges (presumably drugs etc). This may appeal to those with fascist tendencies because those types have always valued efficiency over liberty. However, the practice raises some troubling issues.

The fact that 2/3 of those arrested are minorities is not so troubling. If the high-crime areas are overwhelmingly minority, then yes, more minorities will be arrested. It is the decision to do this and how it is carried out that smells like a whorehouse at low tide.

The offenses are violations, no different than speeding tickets, using a cell phone while driving and a host of other violations. How many of you have been stopped at a checkpoint and found to have an uninspected vehicle? Have you been taking "downtown"? Has bail been set? Were you searched?

Was Mirch taken into custody when he was arrested for two violations? No, an appearance ticket was issued. Would an officer arrest Harry for jaywalking in front of City Hall? I'm sure many would like to but it's never going to happen.

The comparison made to stopping people for DWI (more white people are stopped, so says the authorities) is asinine. First, you stop a driver for DWI because you have a reasonable and articuable suspicion that the driver may be impaired. The driver is pulled over and various tests are performed. An arrest may or may not be made based on the field sobriety tests.

Here, you stop someone for jaywalking because you really want to search them for something else. Furthermore, history plays no small role in the distaste some feel for these types of practices. There's not a long history of whites being oppressed by the police.

Finally, what the hell happened to the Asians? Why aren't more Asians thrown into the mix. If the police want to avoid any allegations of wrong doing, arrest an equal number of whites and black, then salt and pepper that with a few Hispanics and Asians, maybe add an Eskimo. We could all live with that.

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Troy's Anti-Jaywalking team, in action

Just kidding. Some of my best friends are with the Po-Po.

We would like to congratulate Troy's ERT Team (SWAT Team) for the outstanding work they did in connection with the hostage situation in Albany a week ago Saturday. According to all accounts, they did a great job.

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