NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD has mounted a major crackdown on jaywalking and motor vehicle violations at a dangerous intersection on the Upper West Side.
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, officers assigned to the dangerous intersection of 96th Street and Broadway have been asked to act as crossing guards. Meanwhile, a digital sign sternly warned residents to use the crowsswalks, and fliers have been handed out with rules for pedestrian safety.
All this came after Samantha Lee, 26, became the third person in nine days to be killed at the intersection. Early Sunday, she was clipped by the driver's side mirror of a St. Luke's ambulance, police said.
Crackdown On Jaywalking After 3 Traffic Deaths At 96th And Broadway On UWS
"It's an epidemic we're facing," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "This is now a problem that is almost reaching, in terms of numbers, the level of our murder rate."
Just last week, Mayor de Blasio announced his "Vision Zero" initiative, in which a multiagency task force is being formed to develop strategies with the goal of eliminating deadly traffic accidents, especially those involving pedestrians.
Now, he is praising the actions of the 24th NYPD Precinct, who has had to deal with deaths at the Broadway intersection. The intersection has the 96th Street No. 1, 2 and 3 line subway station on an island in the middle of the street, and thus poses special dangers as people rush to catch trains and fail to cross with the light.
"We are moving very aggressively in terms of new enforcement measures, additional personnel at the NYPD focused on traffic issues, speed cameras," de Blasio said. "The precinct commander is doing exactly what we want our precinct commanders to do."
This weekend, officers gave out 18 jaywalking summonses to New Yorkers, who Kramer said tend to view jaywalking as an inalienable right. They also gave out five tickets to motorists.
People in the neighborhood favored the crackdown.
"Listen, if it saves somebody's life, I'm for it," said Lou Johnson of the Upper West Side.
"People don't respect the signs – that's the reason why," said Mos Rigo of the Bronx.
"Why not – they have to follow the law," said Mike Milbaum of the Upper West Side. "Otherwise, it will be more worse than animals in the jungle. We have to follow rules; regulations."
One of the jaywalking summonses was issued to an 84-year-old Chinese immigrant, who suffered serious head injuries while being given the ticket.
Kang Chun Wong's case was under investigation Monday. CBS 2 witnessed some undercover officers going into neighborhood stores, looking to see if there were video surveillance cameras that caught the altercation.
With regard to Kang Chun Wong, de Blasio said: "I haven't gotten all the facts on the case, so I'm not going to comment until I get a better sense of it. Obviously, I wish him a speedy recovery."
The Wong family is considering legal action against the city.
Police insisted that officers did not strike Kang Chun Wong deliberately, and that when an officer pulled out a summons book and began writing a ticket, a struggle ensued.
During the struggle, police claimed, Wong fell to the ground and struck his head.
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