UPPER WEST SIDE (PIX11) – The image of an elderly man in handcuffs surrounded by NYPD officers was surely not the one that Commissioner Bill Bratton would have chosen for the police crackdown on jaywalkers following several pedestrian deaths this year.
The picture shows 84-year-old Kang Wong, his head bloodied, following a Sunday afternoon arrest for jaywalking.
“He got four staples in his head –the back of his head. I think right now the approach that occurred, whereby they’re all reactive because of the death that occurred. They should never have targeted an 84-year old man,” Wong’s son said.
Mr. Wong’s son, an attorney who did not want to give us his name, says the family is reviewing its legal options.
His father’s arrest comes on the heels of other fatal pedestrian fatalities.
Some of those cases also involve jaywalking.
“From a traffic planning-perspective, it’s a nightmare location,” said Bratton.
That’s why officers, at the direction of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton were, and still are, cracking down on the commonly committed offense at the trouble intersection in question – West 96th street and Broadway.
“I’m not aware of excessive force at all, it’s an unfortunate circumstance,” said Bratton.
The stepped up jaywalking enforcement is not officially part of the city’s “Vision Zero” campaign to eliminate traffic fatalities over the next decade.
Commissioner Bratton has a history of cracking down on low-level offenses – for instance, the “Broken Windows” philosophy he favored during his first tour as NYPD Commissioner in the 90s.
He talked about his approach to cracking down on subway fare evasion – once a common sight — during a 1998 Canadian television interview: “We use the police to control behavior as to such that we change them. By dealing with little things, we impact on the big things.”
John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor Emeritus Eli Silverman, who’s written two books on the NYPD’s crime reduction strategies, says although he believes the current jaywalking crackdown is a targeted effort, Bratton must take care not to bungle the public’s perception of his “new NYPD”.
“The image certainly conjures up something that needs to be addressed, and police need to be sensitive to the divergence in the population, and how someone might misinterpret that,” said Silverman.