New York cops often cause traffic jams intentionally. But there's a noble reason

  • Closing bridges and partially shutting down key intersections and highways are often used as ways cops in New York fight crime.
New York
File photo of cars approaching the Hugh Carey tunnel linking Brooklyn to Manhattan, in New York. (AP)
New York
File photo of cars approaching the Hugh Carey tunnel linking Brooklyn to Manhattan, in New York.

No one likes to be stuck in a traffic jam, no one. Or may be someone who has had his or her car stolen could be an exception if the said vehicle gets stuck in an intentional snarl caused by local law-enforcement officials. And that's exactly what police officials in New York are doing to ensure that the accused is apprehended with minimal or no loss of life and damage to public and private property.

Incidents of cars being stolen is on the rise in many US cities and New York has one of the highest rates of GTA or Grand Theft Auto. Many of these incidents eventually see high-speed chases to apprehend an accused in the stolen car. This has often led to accidents in the past. The solution? Gridlock.

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Referred to as a ‘Migration Plan’, the strategy is to create intentional traffic jams on roads where an accused may be driving the stolen vehicle through or towards. According to local police officials, Migration Plan involves strategies like closing bridges or shutting down a highway stretch partially to cause the traffic flow to slow down. It is also often used to force an accused to divert on to a specific road where he or she can be nabbed safely.

But New York already has a very real problem of traffic jams that are not intentionally created. Does Migration Plan not impact this further? Law enforcement officials mostly agree that while not the absolutely ideal method, it is one of the most effective ones to safely apprehend an accused who is behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle. They claim that high-speed chases are a big risk to the accused, police officials as well as pedestrians and fellow motorists.

And if the Migration Plan is not deemed ideal in any one particular case, New York Police officials have other ways too. From asking car owners to get tracking devices like AirTags and having their own GPS-enabled firing darts that can stick to the body of a car and help officials locate it if required, to even using new-age drones to monitor areas which may be particularly susceptible to car thefts.

None of these, however, can be a completely full-proof weapon against car theft. Not in New York and not anywhere else either. Law-enforcement officials mostly agree that there is a need for car owners to themselves be more aware about the possibility of their vehicles being stolen and have to take precautionary steps like paring in well-lit areas, getting CCTV cameras installed in residential and office spaces as well as invest in deterrence devices like steering and gear locks.

First Published Date: 01 Apr 2024, 12:54 PM IST

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