Opponents of the de Blasio administration’s approach to homelessness will say that shelters are dangerous. New arrest data may help make their case.
NY1 has exclusively obtained numbers showing the number of arrests the NYPD made at homeless shelters in the first quarter of 2018.
It’s a total of 674. Seventy-five percent of those arrests were for misdemeanors. One hundred and sixty were for felonies.
This disclosure did not come easy.
“We are going to be releasing to the public and providing to the state verified NYPD arrest information,” Steven Banks, commissioner of the city’s Department of Social Services, said last week.
For almost two years, the city stopped disclosing the total number of arrests made at homeless shelters.
It quietly changed what kind of violent or criminal incidents it would publicly report every year, narrowing it down to 14 categories. Things like bomb scares, domestic violence incidents or fires were still disclosed, but it no longer included arrests.
The city is arguing it’s not the best measurement.
“We also caution that arrests are not the best metric for security and safety in shelters,” Banks said. “We have the kind of deescalating techniques that the PD is bringing to bear. At the same time, greater enforcement will lead to greater arrests.”
After it faced serious criticism, the department exclusive released the data to NY1 late Friday.
The numbers do not disclose arrests at specific shelters. The city says that disclosure would further stigmatize a vulnerable population. It instead shows arrests by police precinct.
The 25th Precinct was leading in shelter arrests, with 75 for the first quarter of 2018. That area includes a large men’s shelter on Wards Island.
The 73rd Precinct in Brownsville comes in second with 72 arrests, followed by the 13th Precinct in Manhattan. That precinct covers a large intake center for men on the east side.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Department of Homeless Services said, “We’re committed to informing the community as we continue to reshape the shelter system and by providing precinct-level NYPD arrest data we’ll be able to further improve our efforts.”
Going forward, the department is committed to releasing this data on a rolling basis every quarter.
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