After a month in which the number of traffic citations and arrests had plummeted across the state, troopers were instructed at the end of April to resume “routine traffic enforcement.”
“This pause was a necessary and precautionary step to ensure our members’ health and safety,” according to a memorandum. “Now that there is additional information known about COVID-19 transmission… Division (headquarters) believes it is now reasonable to resume our traffic enforcement initiatives.”
State Police vehicle and traffic citations dropped from 85,106 last April to 10,212 in April of this year. Crashes also declined from 4,928 a year ago to 2,232 this year; and arrests fell from 4,727 to 2,717. State Police make thousands of arrests annually during traffic stops.
The memorandum noted that there has been “an increase of aggressive drivers,” noted by troopers during the pandemic. For weeks State Police, and many local law enforcement agencies eased their enforcement of vehicle and traffic violations and other minor offenses. A trooper interviewed by the Times Union said the softening of enforcement was also a result of individual troopers – who have discretion on when to issue tickets or make arrests – declining to target doctors, nurses, first responders and other essential workers who may be driving to or from their jobs.
The pause in traffic enforcement was also done, in part, to protect troopers from being infected with the coronavirus, according to the memo. Many troopers have been receiving PPE from their union, the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, and are being instructed to continue wearing masks or face coverings when interacting with the public, including during traffic stops.
Source: Olean Times Herald