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The NYPD’s doppelganger problem and racially unfair policing

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2017

Lisa Davis Lisa Davis

For years, a white woman named Lisa Davis was paying the price (sometimes literally) for tickets issued to other women named Lisa Davis living in NYC.

Finally, the DMV told me that I wasn’t the victim of identity theft; there was simply another Lisa S Davis with the same birthday in New York City. Our records were crossed. When cops run a license, they don’t check the person’s address, signature, or social security numbers. They check the name and the birthday, and both the other Lisa S Davis’s and mine were the same. We were, in the eyes of the law, one person, caught in a perfect storm of DMV and NYPD idiocy.

In fighting all of these improperly filed tickets, Davis learned that most of them issued for bullshit “broken windows” misdemeanors in predominately minority neighborhoods.

It was then that it became clear to me: the reason for the tickets wasn’t that these Lisa Davises were petty criminals. The reason was likely that they lived in highly policed areas where even the smallest infractions are ticketed, the sites of “Broken Windows” policing. The reason, I thought, was that they weren’t white.

That could have been the “proof” I offered to the judge. Brownsville’s population is less than 1% white. It almost couldn’t have been me. My neighborhood, though fairly diverse (and cheap) when I moved there in the early 90s, is now 76% white. I have never heard of anyone getting tickets in my neighborhood for any of the infractions committed by the Lisa Davises in neighborhoods of color.

I felt there was only one thing to do. I had to find the Lisa Davises, to untangle myself from them, to talk to them about being Lisa Davises, and to see if they agreed with my supposition: that the real “crime” they had committed was being non-white.

See also Pro Publica’s report published today, Minority Neighborhoods Pay Higher Car Insurance Premiums Than White Areas With the Same Risk.

We Work Remotely

A Woman in Uniform

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 07, 2015

An NYPD officer anonymously shares what it’s like to be a cop in NYC.

I’m walking in Boerum Hill on one of the first really good days of summer. It’s been a long week but I’m feeling good in a flowing sundress and sandals, relieved to be freed from what I’ve begun to think of as my blue polyester prison. I look up and realize with amusement that I’m walking by an actual prison, or, to be precise, a jail: Brooklyn Central Booking.

The doors to the courtroom lobby open and a man emerges, pausing to survey the street. He’s a little scruffy but then the newly arraigned usually are — there aren’t many opportunities to freshen up in the holding cells. He has an open, pleasant face, and the recognition on my part is immediate. My heart sinks as I see him cross the street and make a beeline for me.

“Miss? Miss?” He doesn’t sound particularly confrontational and I give him my best blank smile, hoping he has some kind of mundane procedural question.

“I don’t mean to like bother you or anything, but if you’re not busy, and a beautiful lady such as yourself is probably busy, but if you’re not busy I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee.”

Now I have to grin. This is my new favorite person in the world. What chutzpah! I’m so delighted by this guy that I almost chuck him on the shoulder. Then it hits me. He doesn’t recognize me, at all. He has no idea that I’m the person who arrested him two nights before.

(via @choire, who called it “BY FAR the most interesting thing i read all week”)

A day without violent crime in NYC

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 29, 2012

According to the NYPD, not single violent crime (shooting, stabbing, murder, etc.) was reported in NYC on Monday, “the first time in recent memory” that has happened.

The rare day occurred on Monday, near the end of a year when the city’s murder rate is on target to hit its lowest point since 1960, according to New York Police Department chief spokesman Paul Browne.

Browne said it was “first time in memory” the city’s police force had experienced such a peaceful day.

While crime is up 3 percent overall, including a 9 percent surge in grand larceny police attribute to a rash of smart phone thefts, murder is down 23 percent over last year, the NYPD said.

Unfortunately, some are crediting the crappy NYPD stop-and-frisk policy with the drop in violent crime. (via marginal revolution)

To improve their observation skills, NYPD officers

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 28, 2005

To improve their observation skills, NYPD officers are observing Vermeers and other paintings in the Frick Collection.

Ugh, riders on the NYC subway are

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 21, 2005

Ugh, riders on the NYC subway are going to have their bags randomly searched by the NYPD. “People who do not submit to a search will be allowed to leave, but will not be permitted into the subway station.” What the fuck?!?