New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on Monday that she is launching an investigation into the New York Police Department to determine whether officers have illegally targeted communities of color during their enforcement of subway fare evasion laws. James wrote in a tweet, “If NYers have been targeted because of the color of their skin, we will not hesitate to take legal action.” The attorney general requested fare evasion data and other information that may reveal racial biases or discriminatory practices by officers in a letter to NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “We’ve all read the stories and seen the disturbing videos of men, women, and children being harassed, dragged away, and arrested by officers in our city’s subway system, which is why we are launching an investigation into this deeply troublesome conduct,” James said.
Current and former NYPD officers have recently said in sworn statements that the department had an unofficial policy of targeting black and Hispanic people for fare evasion in the city’s subway system. According to newly published data, black and Hispanic New York residents received almost 70 percent of citations and 90 percent of arrests for fare evasion between October 2017 and June 2019.