A sharp drop in arrests and fines in New York may prove costly for the city but it could already be hurting some traffic lawyers and bail bonds firms, which are seeing their phones ring less often as fewer people are in trouble and need help.
The slump in arrest volume – last week’s total was around half that recorded a year ago – is seen by supporters of new York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as evidence of a work slowdown by police officers angered by recent comments he made that they viewed as anti-police. Police unions say they have not sanctioned a slowdown.
“We’re seeing less phone calls, less emails, less faxes from people with tickets that are newly issued,” said New York traffic lawyer Matthew Weiss. “It started at the beginning of the year.” Revenues for his New York City traffic ticket business – including moving violations and criminal matters – are down roughly 30 percent to 40 percent since the end of December.
Traffic lawyers typically represent motorists who are pulled over by police for alleged offenses such as speeding, texting and reckless driving. They may also fight parking tickets.
“I’ve definitely noticed a drop in calls,” said lawyer Isaac Abraham. Abraham said the fall in business could, however, be an impact from the holidays and it was too early to tell if it was from the fewer reported arrests.
The number of arrests across the city plunged to 2,401 from 5,448 in the week ending Sunday compared with the same period the previous year, with parking and driving-related tickets down more than 90 percent according to New York Police Department data.
Parking fines are a small but significant revenue source for the city. Revenues from parking violation fines for 2014 amounted to $542 million, according to data from New York’s Office of Management and Budget. That equates to around $10 million a week, still a fraction of the city’s $75 billion budget.
If parking ticket revenues take a long-term knock, it could pressure a budget that has had a persistent, though shrinking, long-term deficit. New York City’s Comptroller’s office said they did not have granular enough data to be able to assess the financial impact of the drop in arrests and summonses.
Parasite lawyers and bail bondsmen are being negatively impacted by a slowdown in enforcement of minor offenses? Hard to see that as a negative.
Perhaps if the police had the support of their mayor and commissioner they would be more vigorous in their duties. Maybe if they weren’t concerned about getting shot by every black person they come across, they would be issuing more tickets.
Maybe Mayor deBlasio should have thought about the possible consequences before he jumped on the wrong side of this issue. If there’s a negative impact on the city budget, I suggest they start tapering back by cutting the mayor’s salary.