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Mark I. Cohen, ESQ. NYC Criminal Attorney

NYPD Targeting Poor Neighborhoods for Social Distancing ‘Crimes’ & Other Low-Level Arrests


At a time when governments and officials are modifying a number of practices around the country, including directing police to use discretion and only make arrests when absolutely necessary due to the dangerous and highly contagious nature of the coronavirus, the New York Police Department (NYPD) does not appear to be slowing down at all, continuing to execute low-level arrests and escalating physical confrontations that, even during ‘normal’ times, are arguably excessive and unnecessary.

What is especially of concern is how often the department is interacting with especially vulnerable communities; for example, police were recently filmed arresting a child who was selling candy in the subway, as well as violently arresting a man who simply informed them that there was no way to disperse on a crowded platform. Indeed, police appear to be conducting the most aggressive policing in the especially poor, vulnerable neighborhoods where a number of essential workers live and where the risk of contracting the virus is the highest. This is where statistics show that arrests over minor, nonviolent offenses and infractions have continued, and even increased, while overall, crime has actually plummeted in the rest of New York City.

‘Failure to Socially Distance’ Is Technically Not an ‘Arrestable’ Crime

Police also now have a new reason to stop and arrest people in these neighborhoods—failure to socially distance. According to statistics mapping all calls made in April related to reports on failure to social distance, police were much more likely to respond to calls in the poorest of neighborhoods, such as the Bronx. Even though ‘failure to socially distance’ is not technically a crime that can be located in the New York Penal Code and Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that it would only be a fine, the NYPD has made a number of arrests and issued even more summonses linked to this ‘crime.’

Is The NYPD Placing the Public at Risk by Failing to Follow the Law?

The police also continue to conduct sweeps of homeless encampments while failing to provide individual housing units and maintain the same number of officers on duty and custodial arrests, all without ensuring that each officer has personal protective gear on, thereby placing the public in danger. What’s more, even when the department provides officers with gloves and masks, many appear to be patrolling and making arrests without using them or bothering to practice social distancing, even as more and more are testing positive for the virus. According to statistics, the infection rate amongst NYPD is eight times that of everyone in New York city and 10 times higher than everyone in the state of New York, indicating that this is a serious issue.

If You Are Facing Criminal Charges In New York, Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime related to failure to socially distance or any other crime in New York, it is critical that you consult and work with an experienced New York City criminal attorney from the outset so as to ensure that your rights are protected. To learn more about how we can help, contact the office of Mark I. Cohen, Esq. today.


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