NYPD Kisses the Blarney Stone After Ray Kelly Saves the Day

parade_kelly.jpgPhoto: Daily News

We couldn’t help notice that, while police information czar Paul Browne was seemingly chatting up every media outlet in town about his boss coming to the aid of a fallen pedestrian this week, we were adding two letters to our stack of NYPD freedom of information rejections. 

As we announced last week, in most of the pedestrian fatality cases for which we’ve filed FOIL requests, authorities have reportedly determined the driver was not at fault. Some cases are months old. Yet of the 10 requests submitted so far, NYPD has declined to release any information pertaining to eight deaths. By contrast, within hours the department supplied the press with meticulous details of Wednesday’s collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian, a scene Commissioner Ray Kelly happened upon en route to the St. Patrick’s Day parade. We can’t sum up the double-standard any better than Streetsblog reader BicyclesOnly:

This is blatant manipulation of public
information by the NYPD and they’ve got to be called on it. The media
should demand an explanation from Browne right now as to why
there is a different policy concerning release of public information on
crashes depending upon the identify of the victim.

Of course there was no such demand from reporters, who were content to package Wednesday’s incident as a heartwarming slice-of-life feature.

Meanwhile, the City Council may soon try to force NYPD to loosen its grip on crash information for the good of all New Yorkers who don’t happen to fall in the presence of our heroic police commissioner.

  • Here in Madison the Police tend to shy away from filing charges for certain traffic-related crimes when there is a history of such cases failing to result in a guilty verdict. The culprit here may be the jurors in similar previous cases, and the NYPD is just carrying out what they see as the opinion of our peers. From the NYPDs perspective, providing information on cases that will likely not produce a conviction can be viewed as a waste of resources.

    I am not saying that this is the case, just that it is a possibility. Has anybody looked into this possibility in NYC?

  • Fran Taylor

    Here in San Francisco some years back, the police chief (Fred Lau) was featured in a full-page ad for “Pedestrian Safety Month,” commenting on several recent collisions, all but one fatal to the pedestrian. For every fatal crash, he made some excuse for the driver: The sun was in his eyes…, Over the hood of his very big truck he couldn’t see the very small woman crossing as he turned…, etc, etc. Only for the one nonfatal incident did the chief lash out at the perpetrator. Why? That person was on a bicycle. No excuses for what that guy did (hit someone while riding on the sidewalk), but the double standard was blatant.

  • com1

    I think the only reason this was released so quickly was because Commissioner Kelly was involved. I would bet if he came to the aide of a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle there would have been just as much publicity. Remember, last month articles were devoted to the help he gave a women who twisted her ankle in a pot hole. http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/03/03/2010-03-03_commish_rescues_injured_woman.html

  • Kelly’s actions were commendable, but were there reporters with him at the scene? It seems more likely that the NYPD is using the incident to buff the Commissioner’s image. Did they really need to flog this to the press? Let’s hope Ms. Hoffman makes a full recovery.

    Of course, the Post describes the cyclist as “speeding,” but nowhere has it been reported who, if anyone, was at fault (the Post says that Ms. Hoffman was “in the crosswalk,” but makes no mention of whether she was crossing with or against the light). And Mr. Pacheco wasn’t summonsed for running a light or failure to yield, though his three summonses were three more than he would’ve received had he been driving a car rather than peddling a bike. And why cite him for not having lights at 8:23 a.m.? Are lights now required during daylight hours?

  • com1

    So now someone on here concedes that it might be the pedestrian’s fault. Yet, when an article is posted about an accident in which a pedestrian was hit by a car, people are quick to point out that pedestrians always has the right of way no matter what. I wasn’t there and I have no idea what happen in this case, but I find it ironic that when a bike is involved people concede that the pedestrian might bare some of the responsibility in the incident.

  • com1

    Before someone jumps on me, I know that cars are much more dangerous than bikes and that many more people are killed and injured in automobile accidents than biking accidents. I am not arguing these points, I just am pointing out the irony I see in the above comment.

  • We’ll never really know who was at fault. My sense is that if the cyclist had run a light, we’d have heard all about it and he would have been cited for more than equipment violations.

    Nonetheless, can we (cyclists) all resolve to do our best to never give this kind of ammunition to the anti-bike crowd? Every time I watch other cyclists go blowing through lights and narrowly missing pedestrians with the right of way (or not missing them and colliding, as I witness) I think, “there’s one more person I’m going to have to confront at a community board meeting or in the press who will be determined to hold up any progress in the city’s bicycle plan.”

    Well, maybe that’s not word for word what I think. But it’s the same outcome.

  • @com1,

    I wasn’t attempting to assign blame, just pointing out that the Post, in typical fashion, employed pejorative language in describing the cyclist. If he’s riding, say, at 20 mph down Fifth Avenue with the light, and a pedestrian steps off the curb against the light, then it’s hard to find fault with the cyclist — and the same would hold true in that case if he were driving a car.

    The larger point is that, if one were to believe most police reports of vehicle-pedestrian conflicts, it seems that the drivers are hardly ever held accountable; nor are they ever talking on their cellphones, exceeding the speed limit, turning illegally into crosswalks, etc., etc. Yet as you rightly point out, motorized vehicles do cause much more damage.

    We’re all responsible for obeying the rules of the road, and looking out for the safety of others: peds, cyclists, drivers (I’m all three), skeateboarders, equestrians, whatever.

    And I fully subscribe to what Ian posted above: as a cyclist (or driver, or pedestrian), I don’t want to put anyone else in harm’s way — or myself in harm’s way, either.

    As I wrote earlier, here’s hoping that Ms. Hoffman makes a full and speedy recovery.

  • BicyclesOnly

    I’m OK with Browne working the press to make Kelly look good, that’s his job.

    I’m OK with different media outlets have pro- or anti-cyclist biases, there’s no such thing as “objectivity” in reporting.

    I am not OK with NYPD refusing to provide basic information as required by law in the 8 FOIL cases SB has brought (not to mention the other F0IL cases I and another SBer have brought), while saturating the media with exactly the same genre of information in a similar case, simply because doing so serves to promote Kelly, or because it was a cyclist allegedly at fault.

  • BicyclesOnly

    P.S. Brad the hed and 1st sentence of this post are pure gold, had me laughing out loud!

  • The crazy part is he wins a Republican nomination for Mayor and Thompson wins the Democratic nomination, Kelly might be far and away better on livable streets issues…a sad thought about the future…I think I would sit that election out.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Glenn, I’m ready to keep an open mind, but is there any evidence you can point me to suggesting Kelly would be the least bit enlightened on livable streets issues? And are you sure Thompson wasn’t just opportunistically pandering to outer boros when he bashed Bloomberg on livable streets, and hence might just as quickly find livable streets religion (of a kind) if running against a candidate who has personally seen to it that just about every black person in NYC got frisked if found on the street in certain neighborhoods?

  • It was more a comment on Thompson – If Kelly has a shot, he needs to run on Bloomberg’s legacy, which means defending all the JSK accomplishments. I am not sure Thompson can walk back from his prior statements. If he does want to, he should start soon.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Interesting. May be true that Kelly tries to posit himself as a continuation of Bloomberg, but I can’t think of anything he’s done with the NYPD that’s “Bloombergian.”. For example, parking placard reform at NYPD (such as it is) very much seems like somthing being done to NYPD, not done by NYPD under Kelly’s leadership. Maybe I’m a cynic, but I suspect Kelly would run on a fearmongering anti-terror meme.

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