"It is ironic that even as the death totals have declined dramatically with violent crime in this city, this year the number of people killed on our streets - pedestrian and traffic -- will almost equal the homicide total," said New York City's once and future police commissioner on Thursday.
William Bratton made that statement following his appointment as NYPD commissioner by Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.
According to NYPD statistics, so far this year, 226 people have been been killed in traffic crashes as of the end of October.
Bratton's appointment was immediately hailed by street safety advocates.
“To achieve his Vision Zero goal, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is smart to appoint Bill Bratton to lead the NYPD," said Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives. "Traffic deaths and serious injuries are epidemic in New York City, and the police department has a significant role to play in eliminating them."
Bratton, who first headed the city's transit police before becoming police commissioner under Rudolph Giuliani, also promised Thursday to focus on subway crime. "Safe streets, safe subways -- a lot of emphasis on subways. As you know, I like them," he said. "I like riding them, and five-and-a-half million New Yorkers every day like them. And they like to have a safe and clean and secure ride and we will commit to that."
(MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said: "We’re happy to hear it, and we look forward to working with him to achieve our common goal of a safe and secure transit network.”)
Last month, while speaking at an NYU Rudin Center/Transportation Alternatives panel, Bratton said traffic deaths are "more easily addressed than crime."
"It’s a matter of just directing resources onto this issue," he said at the time.