Should Kids Who Lose MetroCards Not Be Allowed To Go Home?

A recent video circulating on twitter shows an NYPD officer shoving a high school student on her way home from the Avenue M station on the Q line. The incident took place last Tuesday, February 4, between 3:30 pm and 4:00 pm, says Anthony Beckford of Black Lives Matter Brooklyn Chapter who tweeted the original video.

The video captures a confrontation between a female NYPD officer and a black teenager. The officer blocks the girl’s path through an open subway gate. The teen asks why she can’t pass when allegedly others had just gone through.

“I allowed them, they didn’t jump the turnstile,” the officer can be heard says, as she moves closer to the girl and starts shoving her back through the gate.

“Please don’t touch me,” the girl says.

“Then walk out,” the cop responds, shoving her a number of times until she is pushed out of the station.

“Listen! Don’t touch me!” the girl screams once out on the street. “Are you serious? I’m trying to go home! You’re saying I can’t go home? Are you insane?”

At that point rather than helping to resolve the situation and help the kid get home – the cop seems to threaten to arrest the girl, who responds: “You’re going to arrest me for trying to go home? I’m not doing anything.”

The officer tells the teen “You are no longer welcome in the subway,” as the video cuts out.

There are many details that are unclear – we don’t have the full video of the incident and full accounting of who said what, and why she did not have her MetroCard – but that does not change the basics.  The student’s sin was not having a MetroCard to swipe on her way home from Murrow, one of several high schools that stop serves. Department of Education provides almost all students with free MetroCards that give them three free rides each school day so they can navigate their commutes to and from school and afterschool activities. Only kids who love within half a mile of their school or get bussed don’t get a card.

Rather than de-escalating the situation and, perhaps, helping the student get home without a MetroCard, the officer made a choice to shove the girl out of the station.  I don’t know how she got home. But I do know that if that was my kid, I’d be livid.

Grownups are supposed to be someone kids can look up to and turn to for help. What is a child to do when they lose or forget a card – which most of them will do at one time or another? MTA says they should return to school to get a new one, but that is not always possible.

“Student MetroCards are distributed by the NYC Dept. of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation. If a student loses a MetroCard they should let an administrator at the school know as the DOE has spares for this purpose,” their spokesperson emailed us.

More realistically, if the student were to approach the station agent, show their school ID and explain the situation, they would be allowed to pass – we asked a few middle and high-schoolers who’ve been through it. A bus driver will likely wave a student without a MetroCard through – it’s not a situation a kid wants to be in, and most grownups understand that.

So we asked the NYPD:

  1. Did the officer follow protocol on how to interact with a minor in such a situation?
  2. What is the protocol when a school-aged child is not in possession of their school metro card to get home?
  3. Avenue M has large groups of students traveling together to and from school – if the rest of the group were allowed to pass through the gates, why was this student not allowed to pass?
  4. Was the officer disciplined?

NYPD issued the following statement, without answering any of the questions, despite repeated requests:

“The video posted on social media did not record the entire incident, specifically it did not show the female attempt to  jump over the turnstile without paying the fare. As a result of this action, the officer approached the female and instructed her to properly enter the system by swiping a MetroCard. She was asked multiple times to pay the fare which she refused and was physically removed from the Transit System. A summons was not issued in regard.”

Are we supposed to be grateful she was not arrested, when – most likely – we as taxpayers had already paid for her free ride?

As a parent of school-aged children who rely on taking a bus to train to get to school and home, I’m going to put a few dollars on a spare, tucked into the backpack – a privilege I know not every parent can afford. I also sincerely hope NYPD can provide better guidance to their officers on how to de-escalate situations and interact with minors so that no child has to encounter a situation like the one in the video on their way home – MetroCard or no MetroCard.

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Liena Zagare

Editor of Bklyner.com. Tips? Complaints? Suggestions? Email me at Liena@bklyner.com.

Comments

  1. Posting bullshit stories like this lead to cops getting shot like what happened this past weekend. What’s the matter with you people?

  2. Enough with the cop hating articles. Do you not know that this is what sparks violence, like the attempted assassination last weekend????

  3. The problem with is these cops/transit workers either did not grow up in the city or do not have children. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have done laundry and found the metrocard in the pockets of pants or jackets. As teens these officers most likely went thru the same travelling back and forth to school so for them to be so disconnected to their past and show lack of compassion tells a lot about their character.
    Now if a child with a bookbag on their back and who literally looks all of 15 is most likely a student travelling back and fro. Now if something were to happen to this child who was turned away from the system because of “the rules” I am sure the family would go after the Transit in a Civil Suit.
    Those workers who do not live in the City tend to get this disconnect from all things city life related and have this “I don’t care attitude” Allow these kids to go home and stop being heartless

  4. I’m sorry this happened to the young lady. I wish an adult was around to advocate for her. That cop needs additional community training. Thank you for reporting this.

  5. This is not a cop hating article. This is an article of a police officer being able to show kindness to a teenage child coming from school trying to get home. She could have informed her of what she did wrong and what are her options for when you lose your train pass. She is not an adult that you can expect to have a job and go buy the needed train pass. She certainly did not need to put her hands on her & push & shove her. She was probably hoping the girl would retaliate and hit or push her back so she could then have an actual excuse to arrest her or to get more aggressive with her. She could have helped the girl get home. Instead she put her out in the street and into possible danger. Completely unnecessary. I see that on the side of the NYPD cop cars it says in large letters: Courtesy Professionalism Respect. This female cop lacked all three. I guess some people are okay with adult police officers shoving kids/students out into the street. I hope the cop is disciplined because we all know bad behavior escalates if unchecked. A public apology to the student will be a good start since she had no problem with pushing her around in public.

  6. It is more important for School Children to get home safely than to have to go looking for a lost Child that wasn’t allowed to use mass transit to safely keep from getting lost!!!
    The Police shouldn’t be looking to cause problems because they don’t know how to use their authority properly!!!

  7. Three sides to every tale. Did the Student not small child jump the turnstile? Did she even try to approach the booth and say she misplaced her card? Yes we the tax payers are paying the fare in one way or another but really their is no free ride. For every person who skips paying the fare someone will have to pick up the tab.
    This should be used as a lesson, Tell your child how to behave and what they should do. Its their responsibility and the parents ti make sure they have everything needed prior to going to school. Not the police job but the Parents.
    Kids need to be more respectful.

  8. Instead of escalating the situation by violently shoving the minor she maybe should of let hwr explain tge situation. The officer is a bully and im sure it would not of happened with a prissy white adolescent. Be ashamed of yourself officer( you do not even deserve that title)

  9. Instead of blaming reporters for reporting on things that cops do, let’s change the culture of policing in NY.

  10. Considering kids are given discounted or free MetroCards from their school, it really is not even any lost revenue for the MTA besides paying these asshole cops to harass children.

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