USA

Quality of life summonses in NYC dropped by half since 2017 reforms, report says

No wonder there’s squeegee men and graffiti everywhere.

Summonses for quality of life infractions like public urinating, littering and open containers were cut nearly in half since they were decriminalized in 2017, a new report has found.

The Big Apple has seen a 48-percent drop in such citations under the Criminal Reform Act, according to a John Jay College study funded by the Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice.

The law took five infractions — littering, drinking in public, urinating in public, unreasonable noise and parks department violations — and made them largely civil violations that are dealt with in an administrative hearing rather than a courtroom.

That has led to cops writing fewer and fewer summonses.

“Usually when there is a change in the way police deal with a violation — decriminalizes it, like what happened here — there is sort of less of a desire to follow up and issue the summonses,” said Maria Haberfeld, a police science professor at John Jay.

“It’s very hard to convince police that very serious behavior is not serious behavior with reform or by politicians,” Haberfeld said. “It demoralizes them.”

Quality of life summonses had been steadily declining since hitting 210,000 in 2013 — but dipped sharply since the reforms.

On Sunday, The Post reported on the reemergence of panhandling squeegee men in Manhattan, with a trio of the window-washing beggars peddling their services unhampered by police.

A full 87 percent of quality of life summonses in the city are now civil cases that end up before the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, where scofflaws are more likely to be sentenced to perform community service or pay fines.

Cops writing tickets for the five infractions still have the option of deeming them criminal summonses — but that’s if the scofflaw in question has an open warrant, is on probation or parole, is facing multiple citations or if the officer has “a legitimate law enforcement reason to issue a criminal summons.”

But giving officers that kind of leeway could also be affecting the number of summonses they’re writing, Haberfeld said.

“When you give them more discretion there is going to be less enforcement,” she said.

“There is a tremendous push for police-community relations, so if you can not issue summonses because it’s not so serious anymore, it’s sort of a conflicting message between improving police-community relations and enforcing.

“Officers do realize fewer summonses equals better police-community relations,” she added.

Still, the 2017 reforms have all but eliminated criminal summonses for quality of life offenses.

According to the report, there were 79,259 criminal citations for the infractions in 2016 — and only 5,486 in 2017, after the law was enacted.

The drop was so radical that one academic questioned the findings.

“Normally, we would call this a reclassification,” said Christopher Hermann, an assistant professor at John Jay. “That’s weird.”

“I’m just wondering if it’s recording or reporting issues,” he said. “We haven’t seen that sort of crime go down.”

Not all five boroughs followed the trend, however.

The report found that law-and-order Staten Island still “issued criminal summonses for CJRA offenses at rates well above the city average.”

State Island’s 120th Precinct accounted for the highest percentage of the post-reform criminal citations, at 6.5 percent.

Manhattan’s 22nd Precinct had the highest percentage of the civil citations, with 8.7 percent, the report said.