It’s hard to drive between boroughs these days and not see the dark form of a State Police patrol car waiting on a shoulder—visible evidence of Gov. Cuomo’s move in 2017 to dispatch a new force of state troopers to the five boroughs, ostensibly to guard against terrorism and catch drivers who try to sneak through the new cashless tolls that exist on many crossings.
Although polls indicated it was popular, the move has been criticized on many fronts. For one thing, the NYPD has more than seven times as many sworn officers as the state police, suggesting the local boys have things covered here. Reassigning the “staties” has been costly and has worried some upstate officials about whether their constituents were being left less protected—it’s worth noting that in 2016, eight of the 10 counties in New York with the highest crime rates were outside New York City (Schenectady, Niagara and Albany making up the top three). And given the, um, ebbs and flows in the friendship between the governor and Mayor de Blasio, some wondered whether the reallocation of state police resources was more about staking out territory than about stopping terrorism.
But what about the practical impact of all these troopers—and, for that matter, the other police forces that patrol the bridges, tunnels, airports and train lines—on the city’s criminal justice system?
Data obtained from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services and the State Police indicate that while the vast majority (like, more than 98 percent) of arrests in New York City are still made by the NYPD, most other law enforcement agencies active in the five boroughs are making more collars.
From 2013 to 2017, the number of NYPD arrests fell by 25 percent. But the Port Authority police nabbed 60 percent more people in ’17 than in ’13. The MTA police saw their arrests grow by 51 percent. While the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority cops shaved arrests by about a third, the state Park Police busted 12 percent more people (although still a very, very small number). Other law enforcement agencies also made more collars.
|Port Authority NY-NJ Police Department||1,302||1,615||1,813||1,891||2,087|
|Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department||437||523||606||732||660|
|Triborough Bridge Tunnel Authority Police Department||394||265||276||251||257|
|NYS Park Police||16||13||32||45||42|
|All Other Agencies||130||107||101||92||145|
|Total Arrests in NYC||316,554||309,758||277,343||268,301||240,152|
The State Police say they made 149 criminal arrests and 63 DWI arrests for a total of 212 last year. The agency refused to provide figures for earlier years, but The New York Post has previously reported that the troopers made 63 busts in 2016 and none the year before. That yields a small sample, but the trend is pretty clear: State cops were more than three times as active in the city in 2017 than they were a year before. But the overall number arrests is still very small.
It’s unclear how long the governor will maintain the current deployment. As long as it lasts, perhaps city drivers who see a rigid-brimmed campaign hat through their rear-view mirror should bear in mind Springsteen’s words:
License, registration, I ain’t got none
But I got a clear conscience ’bout the things that I done
Mister state trooper, please don’t stop me