Posted on May 27, 2020 at 5:00 pm by West Sider


Social distancing at the Reservoir. Photo by Sandy.

Not everyone is following social distancing and mask-wearing rules, and that’s clearly upset a lot of other people who are being more careful. (We’ve been getting a lot of emails about this issue.)

The Legal Aid Society compiled data on 311 complaints made in police precincts across the city in order to examine the enforcement of the new rules. The data covered the period from March 28 through May 12. On the Upper West Side, there were 305 complaints in the 20th precinct, which covers 59th to 86th Street, and 443 complaints in the 24th precinct, which covers 86th to 110th Street.

On a per-capita basis, that’s actually a relatively low rate, with 28.77 complaints per 10,000 people in the 20th and 43.25 per 10,000 in the 24th. In one midtown precinct, by comparison, there have been 120.11 complaints per 10,000 people. In several other parts of the city, there are also rates above 70 per 10,000.

There haven’t been any summonses or arrests for social distancing violations on the UWS, though there have been in other parts of the city. In general on the UWS, police have tried to deal with the rules by encouraging people to wear masks and stay apart.

That fact is one reason the Legal Aid Society says that the law is being applied in a discriminatory manner: “18 of the 20 precincts with the highest rates of known COVID-19 related arrests or summonses per 10,000 people occurred in majority Black or Latino precincts,” the group says, even though less than half of the complaints occurred in neighborhoods where the majority of residents are Black or Hispanic.

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