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The NYPD Spent $150 Million to Catch Farebeaters Who Cost the MTA $104,000

The massive increase in overtime spending coincided with just a two percent decrease in serious crime.

9:40 AM EST on December 22, 2023

(Ed Reed / Mayoral Photography Office)

Happy holidays from Hell Gate! We're taking a short break from spewing, and we'll be back with your favorite daily news roundup on January 2.

Overtime pay for cops in New York's subway system increased from $4 million in 2022 to $155 million over the same period in 2023, according to an analysis by Gothamist.

If that sounds like an excessive amount of money to be spending on cops who are famously mostly on their phones or GETTING STURDY 😱👮🏼, that's probably because you don't believe in public safety. For your information, that extra $151 million in overtime spending, a nearly 4,000 percent cost increase and the result of adding 1,000 additional cops to patrol the subway system, bought us a whopping two percent decrease in "major" crime, amounting to a total of 48 fewer serious crimes like murder, rape, and robbery. The number of assaults on the subway, on the other hand, actually went up, raising the question of whether that decrease can even be attributed to the increased police presence underground. 

What did all that extra spending actually bring us? An increase in fare evasion enforcement: According to Gothamist, there were 1,900 more fare evasion arrests and 34,000 more summonses through September, up roughly 250 percent and 160 percent from 2022. That's about $4,200 in NYPD overtime pay per arrest or summons, and $151 million to hassle people whose total unpaid fares only amounted to about $104,000. What a bargain! The enforcement, as usual, was disproportionately doled out to non-white straphangers. 

NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper told Gothamist that the negligible change in major crime rates belies the much more significant change of "tone" throughout the subway system. "It's about correcting behavior," Kemper said. "Stopping fare evaders sets the tone of law and order." A 151 million dollar vibe shift, if you will.

But even a former transit cop thinks having more officers in the subways is a waste of money. 

"The department tends to knee-jerk and flood an area with uniforms," James Dooley, now an assistant professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said. "It’s not very cost effective and eventually, people who commit crimes simply go to other stations or other times."

But while all those cops are down there, has anyone asked if they've got any tips for getting past level 10 of Geometry Dash?

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