Jaywalking in Manhattan
Jaywalking in Manhattan Creative Commons

A recent study by Streetsblog NYC found that the NYPD issued a disproportionate amount of jaywalking tickets to Blacks and Latinos during 2023.

Making use of the city's open data sources, the study found that out of the 463 tickets where the race of the individual was known, 426 were issued to Black or Latino individuals, accounting for a whopping 92% of the total.

In contrast, only 27 tickets, or fewer than 6 percent, were issued to non-Hispanic whites.

A closer examination of the data reveals more details of the disparity:

  • Black residents in New York City received 59% of the jaywalking tickets.
  • Hispanic residents, who are listed as Black or white, received 33% of the tickets, though they comprise 29 percent of the population.
  • Whites received 5.9% of the tickets.

Another notable finding from the study was that not all New York precincts prioritized jaywalking enforcement in 2023. Of the 77 city precincts, only 47 registered an illegal crossing ticket at all.

However, in those in which jaywalking was enforced, the disparity was pronounced. The 33rd Precinct in Washington Heights, for example, issued 38 jaywalking summonses, with 97.3% going to people of color, while in the 79th Precinct in central Brooklyn, all 36 tickets went to Black or Hispanic individuals.

Efforts to decriminalize jaywalking in some capacity have been ongoing in the city. Council Member Mercedes Narcisse of Brooklyn recently drafted a bill aiming to legalize crossing the street outside of marked or unmarked crosswalks and against traffic signals.

Other states have passed similar laws across the country, most notably California, which passed a bill in 2022 barring police from issuing citations when a crossing wasn't "truly dangerous." At the time, the bill's author Assemblyman Phil Ting summed up the sentiment behind the initiative:

"It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street. When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it's time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians"

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