135th Street Subway Station/MTA (287049)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

New York Attorney General Letitia James is launching an investigation into whether the New York City Police Department has been targeting communities of color through its enforcement of the “theft of services” law and the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s fare evasion regulations.

In a letter to NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, James requested fare evasion data and other information that may shine a light on whether officers have exhibited racial biases or engaged in discriminatory practices in their enforcement of these laws and regulations at subway stations throughout the city.

Current and former NYPD officers have recently alleged in sworn statements that—through at least 2015—the NYPD had an unofficial policy of targeting Black and Hispanic people for fare evasion and other low-level violations in the city’s subway system. But newly published data indicates that this alleged policy may still continue today. Between October 2017 and June 2019, Black and Hispanic New Yorkers received almost 70% of all civil summonses for fare evasion, even though they only account for slightly more than half of the city’s population.