Local electeds seek higher punishments for bridge trespassers

April 2, 2015 Anna Spivak
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After another trespassing incident rocked one of the city’s bridges – the RFK Triborough Bridge – on Wednesday, March 25 — elected officials are banding together to higher punishment for trespassers with a new bill that would treat any “individual trespass on infrastructure” as a Class A Misdemeanor.

Last month’s incident, in which multiple climbers scaled the RFK Bridge and posted photos of their climb on the internet, follows several security breaches of the Brooklyn Bridge within the past year, most dramatically one in which the American flags atop the bridge were replaced by white flags by a pair of German artists.

“Whether the Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge or the Lincoln Tunnel, trespassing on our city’s vital infrastructure is too high a risk to be tolerated,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Trying to see New York City’s beautiful views shouldn’t come while risking the safety of other New Yorkers and visitors. The New York State legislature must pass the Critical Infrastructure Safety Act to discourage this chronic trespassing on the infrastructure that keeps our city’s economy moving.”

Adams, along with two other Brooklyn pols – State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Joseph Lentol — is sponsoring the bill that would complement a proposal by Senator Charles Schumer, making it a “federal crime to trespass on critical infrastructure.” Now, elected officials from the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens have signed on to the legislation

“Each new stunt drains focus and resources from the essential job of protecting New Yorkers and their critical infrastructure,” said Squadron. “This bill, along with Senator Schumer’s effort at the federal level, sends the clear message that in today’s world, these enduring breaches are not harmless acts.”

According to Squadron’s office, the Critical Infrastructure Safety Act would treat any cases of trespassing with the same set of protection laws used for terrorist attacks. Under the bill, a person would be guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor if he or she trespasses on infrastructure “so vital to the state that its disruption, incapacitation or destruction could jeopardize the health, safety, welfare or security of the state, its residents or its economy.”

“When people decide to climb bridges or other critical infrastructure, they are putting the lives of all New Yorkers in jeopardy,” said Lentol. “The city does not take these actions lightly. If the NYPD and Fire Department need to send a wide swath of officers to deal with a trespasser, that intruder is taking first responder resources away from the people who really need them. I hope the next time someone thinks of climbing a bridge or other critical infrastructure, they think about the other person’s life they might be harming, as well as the potential one year of jail they might be serving.”

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