City eases arrests of subway dancers

The number of dancers and panhandlers arrested in New York City subways has dropped again, after an initial spike during the first year of the Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, according to figures provided by the New York Police Department.

The numbers have fluctuated widely under de Blasio, whose first police commissioner, Bill Bratton, made something of a crusade of cracking down on the subway dancers, as part of a broader Broken Windows strategy of aggressively policing quality-of-life crimes.

In 2013, the year before de Blasio became mayor, New York City police officers made 153 arrests for dancing in the subways, and 385 arrests for panhandling.

The following year, those figures jumped to 358 arrests for dancing and 680 arrests for pan-handling, with Bratton justifying the action by saying that the dancers could create a sense of fear among riders.

In 2015, the numbers fell: 256 arrests for dancing — about 100 higher than the year before de Blasio became mayor — and 357 arrests for panhandling, slightly before the pre-de Blasio level. Part of the drop was due to a new strategy of steering dancers to designated locations above ground.

The drop continued in 2016, when police made 203 arrests for dancing and just 88 for panhandling.

So far this year, the NYPD is on pace to make even fewer arrests for dancing and panhandling. As of May 21, they made only 71 arrests for dancing and 9 for panhandling.

Spokesman for Mayor de Blasio did not respond to a request for comment.

 

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