NYPD Parking Abuse Scandal Widens

jan_lee_arrest_parking.jpg
Chinatown businessman Jan Lee was cuffed and detained for
photographing police officers’ illegally parked cars in front of his shop.

Despite threatening late night calls to his home phone from a Brooklyn police officer (who forgot to block his phone number from appearing on caller ID), CBS Channel 2’s Brendan Keefe continues his series of hard-hitting investigative reports on the widening government employee parking abuse scandal. In one of yesterday’s two stories, Keefe asks, "Why don’t ticket writers issue violations to illegally parked city employees?" The answer: "It’s not just professional courtesy. It’s fear."

Keefe interviews a City DOT parking agent who was suspended without pay for putting a summons on the windshield of an illegally parked NYPD police chief; a Chinatown businessman who was cuffed and dragged off to police headquarters for snapping photos of illegally parked cops hogging up the spaces in front of his shop; and two advocacy group volunteers who were detained and told that the Patriot Act prevents them from taking photos of police officers’ illegally parked cars. City Hall declines to comment.

All three of Keefe’s most recent "Selective Enforcement" stories are online and very much worth a watch. This appears to be a story that goes beyond illegal parking and into the realm of post-9/11 police power and civil rights:

  • John

    I appreciate the receptiveness to my comments and I’m glad that they were of some assistance to you folks. Blogger ddartley, you were correct in your presumption, the impetus behind issuance of police metrocards stemmed in great part from the assault you mentioned and some other instances where we needed access to the transit system but were unable to get it in an expedient manner. So, this is a situation which was properly addressed in order to further our primary mission to protect life. Steve, I know it was not you who used the “Nazi” reference and if I gave the impression that it was attributable to you, my sincere apologies. You and several others seem to have a decidedly more mature approach to what is doubtless an important issue which I am sure can be jointly addressed by the NYPD and you folks for, hopefully, mutual benefit. I am obligated to put in a disclaimer which states that I am in no way speaking on behalf of the NYPD,I am precluded from doing so by Department regulations, but I am at the same time acting within my proper scope by suggesting that, if you and your colleagues have not already done so, to contact the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau at One Police Plaza. The people assigned there have the specific task of ensuring and encouraging proper responsiveness to the people we are sworn to serve, and I’m sure this might facilitate some progress and some productive discussion for both sides. I hope this additional information is of some help, and if it’s okay with you, I’ll check in and read and contribute from time to time on this blog. The parking situation in general in our city can be a cause of frustration to everybody ( cops included ) and I can speak from experience that it is not a new problem, but I’ve seen the community and the NYPD reach solutions in the past specific to that which you are presently addressing. Predicated on that, I would believe that with your aforementioned ( and may I say very refreshing) mature and businesslike approach, you might be able to make some inroads ( no pun intended). Good luck,gentlemen, and I look forward to reading and sometimes commenting.Thanks for including me.

  • Steve

    Thanks John. If you check out my posts you will see that I generally seek out direct contact with others I encounter in the street in pressing my agenda, police officers included. However if you check out the post (at the top of this page) you will see evidence of arrest and harassment by NYPD personnel against those who complain about NYPD placard abuse. Should that factor in to a decision to visit One Police Plaza, as you suggest?

  • John,

    For the record, no one called anyone a “Nazi Bastard” in this discussion. If you search this entire web page for the word “Nazi” or “Bastard” — it’s easy to do in your web browser — you won’t find either word until you wrote them.

  • Steve

    Aaron, check out comment #9.

  • Ah hah!

  • police parking

    John the cop says that cops can’t create parking wherever they want.

    Maybe not “anywhere” but pretty close to it.

    The angle parking in front of precincts and the parking regulations around them were created unilaterally by the NYPD and handed down as writ to the DOT and the community boards.

    If you go to community board meetings enough and get to know the cops and DOT and political people they will tell you that. Some high ranking cops with big mouths have even bragged about their power at public meetings. One did so some years back at a Community board 4 (mhtn) meeting when asked about the expanded police parking at the precinct on west 30th street. The cops there have taken over about 3/4ths of the parking and created vertical stalls everywhere. Making deliveries is impossible.

  • ddartley

    Maybe some polite literature to precincts about how socially and environmentally destructive driving to work can be? These days it would be good not to assume that cops are averse to such information. Might do better than accusatory stuff. I got to start going to some CB meetings, for all my talk.

  • Steve

    CB 7 Transporation Committee (which covers the lot we are discussing) meets the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Details to follow.

  • karen

    Sorry–for anyone interested in the history of David’s non-use of sources and then nefarious use of sources, please go here:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/01/19/battle-of-the-weatherpeople/#comments

  • karen

    Sorry two times—didn’t mean to post on this discussion.. Beg pardon.

  • John

    Good morning. Glad to see that this has spurred some interest in dialogue with community boards, etc. On a semi-humorous note, Aaron, re Comments 53 and 55, does “Ah hah” mean, “Sorry John,I was wrong, you weren’t making up the part about the Nazi acronym “? ( Thank you, Steve, for the back-up.):)Seriously,though, I’m encouraged that you guys would consider enhanced communication with One Police Plaza and the Community Boards. It’s a proper step and I hope it will help in reaching an equitable solution. Have a pleasant (albeit chilly) day, gents. I’ll check in again soon. Stay well.

  • galvoguy

    Bugg wrote “The PBA’s contract with the City stipulates that the City is to provide parking for officers assigned to patrol commands, since they have to work around the clock, nights and weekends. It was collectively bargained for and agreed to by the City, which otherwise has used the Taylor Law to ram awful contracts down their collective throats.”
    i always see this brought up by the NYPD, I guess the rank and file no not understand how collective bargaining works. If your contract is violated, you file a grievance; you do not have the right to take it upon yourself to gain what you think you have lost. For instance if your contract stated you get paid for double time on Sunday, you find your paycheck short this amount, you do not have the right to steal from a MTA booth the monies. If your contract does state you are to be provided parking and none is provided, that the tickets you rightfully receive should be brought to your union delegate’s attention and the city should be made to pay for the tickets. If no free and legal parking is available in the area and there is paid parking nearby, you could park there and submit the receipts to your supervisor and union to be reimbursed. If they don’t reimburse you take it up with the many levels of grievance steps and settle it at arbitration. If your contract states that you can’t be force transferred to a distant station house due to seniority, do you refuse to go there and continue to show up where you want to work? Nope you do what you’re ordered to do and take it up with the union. If your union is weak, that is a labor problem not the pedestrian and citizens problem. The proper remedy with any violation of a labor contract is the take it up with local management, if no satisfaction than you run it through the grievance procedures. Since you brought up the Taylor law, do you decide to go on strike if they violate the contract? Not unless you want some heavy financial repercussions.

  • In a related note – perhaps that deserves its own blog entry – The Villager is reporting that the popular new C.O. of the 5th Precinct (Chinatown/Little Italy), Deputy Inspector Michael Lau, is being “pushed out” because he was cracking down on illegal police parkers.

    http://www.thevillager.com/villager_196/meterstickingdownon.html

  • ABG

    Thanks, Ian! If there’s any truth to this, it definitely deserves some kind of campaign.

  • Efficiency Nut

    Also, on the contract, I have yet to see any of the contracts stipulate that the city has to provide parking for every officer who works patrol commands. The contracts state that the city shall endeavor to provide parking as it is available, which in no way justifies painting parking spaces on sidewalks, parking in front of hydrants, adding diagonal parking in NO PARKING zone streets, or any other measure that is currently being used without repercussion.

    The PBA will say this loudly, and it will be trumpeted constantly by those who want to defend the illegal parking practices, but it is nowhere in the contract, nowhere on record with the Department of Labor, it is not justified, not respectful of the neighborhoods where it happens, and it is not cool.

  • Jason

    Wow… this entire blog is absolutely full of closed minded simpletons. While there are some NYPD officers that use their placards in places they are not supposed to. Most of the time this “abuse”, takes place when they are sent to details or around the city to other locations where parking is not always available. Try and tell a supervisor at these locations. “Sorry i’m late sir, I couldn’t find parking” You would be given a command discipline and days would be docked from the officer. If anything “limited” parking placards are at times too limited sometimes. But hey, sometimes using common sense isn’t that easy for some people. There was a time when officers received a certain amount of respect from the people in the neighborhoods that they protected. Those times are sadly long gone. Angry people always wants to bring others with more money or more privlidges down. I’ts the norm now. Look at Obama and the “greedy rich”. It’s the same story ,same nonsense. Just remember when someone in your family is in grave need of a police officers help. If you feel so negatively towards them. DONT CALL THEM. But if you do…and they save you or your loved ones life while making a measly salary. Mabye they do deserve some EXTRA privileges. NAH thats crazy talk! Burn them at the stake. Please don’t waste your time responding to this, for I will certainly never give any of you the satisfaction of reading your responses. Disgruntled and you wonder why.

  • Try and tell a supervisor at these locations. “Sorry i’m late sir, I couldn’t find parking” You would be given a command discipline and days would be docked from the officer.

    Apparently Jason won’t read this, but for the benefit of others I’ll point out that most of us understand that it’s the NYPD brass (and the Mayor) who have allowed this situation to develop, and responsibility rests on them more than on the rank and file.

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