Ever since commissioner Bill Bratton took command of the NYPD in 2014, the department has placed special focus on arresting people who commit small crimes like public urination and panhandling. If a widely supported new legislation package in City Council is any indication, that may soon change. Get your pee on! Because this is excellent news.
You can expect to see many more headlines about public urination, the grabbiest item in a group of bills that also includes reduced punishments for violations like excessive noise and drinking in public. I would bet money that the piss-lovin’ New York Post puts it on their cover tomorrow.
Under the legislation, which reportedly has the support of Bratton, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and a majority of council members, these low-level crimes would largely be treated as civil offenses, which do not carry the possibility of jail time or become a part of an offender’s personal records. But don’t be scared of a little pee pee. According to Bloomberg, one of Bratton’s conditions for approving the legislation was that cops still be given an option to use criminal charges if they are warranted. If a guy is running up and down your block, peeing in strollers or something, he can still be dealt with accordingly.
More importantly, the bills signal a potential scaling back of “broken windows” policing in New York, an approach that has led to a staggering 1.2 million arrest warrants that are currently open in the city. I would bet money that many of those warrants are for underprivileged people of color, and the stats are on my side. Who do you think is more likely to be arrested: the guy who takes a quick outdoor leak after his cigarette to avoid the bathroom line at 1 Oak, or the homeless guy in a poor neighborhood that’s crawling with cops who has nowhere else to go?