The Police Slowdown Has Cost New York City Millions in Lost Parking-Ticket Revenue

Those lost parking tickets add up fast.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York City police have finally resumed making arrests and issuing tickets after an unofficial slowdown that began in late December and lingered into this month. Last week, police made 6,910 arrests citywide and issued 14,399 parking tickets and 14,367 moving violations, according to the New York Times. Those figures still aren’t on par with statistics from the same period in 2014, but they’re a big improvement over previous weeks, as you can see from the chart below:

Chart by Alison Griswold. Data from the NYPD via the New York Times.

How much has that monthlong drop-off in police activity cost the city? Well, from the week of Christmas through Jan. 11, city officials estimated New York’s lost revenue at just under $5 million from all fines, compared with the same period a year before. Parking tickets accounted for a shortfall of about $3 million—they reportedly average $69.13 per ticket and declined by about 44,000 in the slowdown’s first three weeks. At the same time, the Times noted that the less-than-$5-million figure did not include “the additional loss of revenue from speeding tickets, other moving violations, and petty crimes that were not cited, totals that are more difficult to calculate, given the varying penalties for different offenses.”

So it’s hard to know exactly what New York City missed out on while police lowered their enforcement activities. We can loosely update the estimate from Jan. 11 by noting that even in the latest week parking tickets remained down nearly 40 percent, or roughly 8,638, from the same period in 2014. Multiplying that out by $69.13 per ticket, you get that the city lost another nearly $600,000 in the most recent week from the ongoing shortfall of parking tickets alone.* The New York City Comptroller’s Office on Tuesday was not able to provide an updated estimate of how much the city has lost to the slowdown.

While a loss of several million dollars isn’t a terrible hit for a city with a $77 billion budget for fiscal year 2015, it’s also a not-insignificant amount of money. Police Commissioner William Bratton has countered that New York may in fact be saving money from reduced overtime pay for officers. But it’s really anyone’s guess how the slowdown will appear in the budget when the final tallies are in.

*Correction, Jan. 20, 2015: This post originally misstated the approximate amount of money the city lost a shortfall in parking tickets in the latest week. It is $600,000, not $600 million.