Bill Bratton Rolls Back Internal NYPD Parking Reform

On Monday the Times published an in-depth piece on how Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is aiming to boost NYPD morale, in part by giving officers more latitude to skirt departmental rules. The Times said such infractions might include “misplacing a memo book or being late for court.”

Photo: Policy Exchange/Flickr

According to the story, Bratton is also lightening up on illegal parking.

[O]n day-to-day internal disciplinary issues, Mr. Bratton is seeking to alter departmental culture: He disbanded a so-called tow-away squad that had been giving tickets to and towing department cars on official business but parked improperly.

Former mayor Michael Bloomberg instituted a number of reforms intended to cut down on illegal parking by city employees. In 2008, City Hall reduced the number of city-issued parking placards. At the same time NYPD cracked down on police parking scofflaws, both those on “official business” and those using their placards as a lifelong entitlement for their personal vehicles.

When Ray Kelly was police commissioner, cops criticized the Internal Affairs Bureau tow unit, saying it interfered with police work. It’s unknown how many tickets and tows the squad was responsible for, but a 2010 Daily News story pegged Internal Affairs’ daily quota at four tows and 20 summonses.

Cops and other government employees who ignore parking rules clog streets, hurt businesses, and block sidewalks and bike lanes. The problem is particularly acute in Lower Manhattan, where space is especially scarce. In 2006, Transportation Alternatives found that just 12 percent of cars with placards in the southern section of Chinatown were parked legally [PDF]. That same year a survey conducted for an NYPD environmental impact statement counted more than 1,100 illegally parked cars with placards near One Police Plaza [PDF].

How much has NYPD been enforcing police placard abuse, and to what extent did the tow squad contribute to that? We’ve asked NYPD for data and are waiting for a response.

Without the numbers, it’s not clear how dissolving the tow unit will affect NYPD’s internal efforts to curb placard abuse. But once the city starts backsliding, the placard enforcement gains of the past seven years could easily slip away.

  • J_12

    Sure, cops parking illegally, or misplacing a notebook, may not be the worst thing in the world. But this is the guy who is the biggest cheerleader for the “broken windows” style of policing – crack down hard on minor crimes to send the message that lawlessness is not tolerated.
    Obviously he does not really believe in this theory, otherwise he would not let cops get away with their equivalent of “quality of life” offenses.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Bratton hates New York

  • c2check

    A fish rots from the head. (And this guy is stinking worse than a chinatown sidewalk in high summer.)

  • scofflaw_cyclist

    I really need to get more middle fingers grafted to my body. The two I have don’t seem nearly sufficient for this clown.

  • bolwerk

    I thought breaking rules leads to disorder!

    But two things:

    (1) can’t we scale back punishing everyone? That can include cops. But especially it should include victims of cops.

    (2) Why the fuck should any city employee need a placard? Unless your job specifically requires you to drive, you don’t need one. No exceptions, including for cops driving to work.

  • c2check


    He’s just using REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY, just like he did with times square, to get the conversation flowing with the public.

    Allow us to take this opportunity to tell you how we feel about NYPD’s endangering of other street users through discourteous, disrespectful, and unprofessional behavior in your squad cars.

  • Guest

    Bratton leads by example.

    He doesn’t need to micromanage the discipline, but there needs to be accountability for conditions. The worst disorder I see from one neighborhood to the next is almost always at the front door of the NYPD station house: personal vehicles parked on the sidewalk, in bike lanes, in the crosswalks, at fire hydrants, in bus stops; trash blowing around where officers “clean out” their patrol cars by throwing it on the ground; drivers obstructing traffic (motor vehicle as well as bicycle) while they stop to have personal conversations out their windows; not to mention the periodic allegations about more serious crimes like alleyway beatdowns of people after they’ve been released from police custody…

  • Matthias

    I had no idea there ever was any punishment for illegal parking. Clearly, 4 tows and 20 tickets per day were not nearly enough. But elevating police above the law is the wrong way to boost morale.

  • Mark Walker

    When Bratton’s comments about the plazas drooled out of his mouth, I thought he was just a senile, clueless dinosaur. But now I realize that Alexander is right: Bratton hates New York. Specifically, he hates New Yorkers, especially those trying to make the streets safer and more civil. He is the opposite of what a police commissioner should be. Instead of preserving order, he privileges disorder, turning what should be civil servants into a sneering, hostile occupying army. Only someone who truly hates New York and New Yorkers would do this.

  • Maggie

    Is it worth it to put in 311 complaints when police park their personal, placarded cars blocking fire hydrants? I see this way too often on the street in front of the 2-0.

  • I wrote once that the NYPD’s approach to broken windows in traffic policing – to harass cyclists disproportionately while largely ignoring the worst offenses – was the equivalent of cracking down on squeegee men and letting murderers have a free pass. It’s not acceptable.

  • Kevin Love

    You forgot the word, “illegal.”

    It is my opinion that deliberately choosing to break the law for no other reason than selfishness is incompatible with employment as a police officer.

  • Kevin Love

    No other country in the world that I know of has this kind of placard system. Everywhere else, government employees have to follow the law.

    Anyone know of any exceptions?

  • Nikolay Uspenskiy

    Many government officials have sirens and corteges when they take to the road and everyone has to clear the road for them.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    thank you for clarifiying

  • Bernard Finucane

    North Korea comes to mind.

  • Kevin Love

    Yes, I imagine that giving a ticket to one of the cronies of the Dear Leader may be hazardous to the health.

  • Guy Ross

    Without cars, the need for ‘bike lanes’ is limited, no?

  • JK

    Does Bratton really not understand that illegal cop parking is a very concrete, everyday symbol of disrespect towards the community? Do he and precinct commanders not understand that the simple indignity of having to walk around the private cars of cops parked on sidewalks, or bike around cars in bike lanes, undermines community support and stoke resentment towards the police?

    Can Bratton really not tell the difference between things like cops wearing white socks — which do not impose on the public — mass illegal cop parking?

  • walknseason

    And Bill de Blasio, his enabler and lover, gives him more police for his efforts.

    Remember to vote out BdB next time.

  • neroden

    What would be appropriate: a citizen’s arrest of Bratton and a private prosecution of him. For conspiracy to commit criminal activity.

    It’s slowly becoming clear that Bratton belongs in prison with Ray Kelly and Patrick Lynch. Until these *criminal gang leaders* are put behind bars or executed, nobody is safe.

  • neroden

    Bratton is sending the message that Bratton is the gang leader of a criminal mafia.

    He should be treated exactly the way the gang leader of a criminal mafia is typically treated. With caution, but with the goal of taking him out.

  • neroden

    Honestly, the NYPD’s approach to “broken windows” policing seems more like “We’re gonna break some windows” than anything else. Does the department have any credibility?

    Dissolve the department. Fire everyone. Start, I don’t know, a “PDNY” modeled on FDNY. If the PBA complains, arrest them on RICO charges, because Lynch is guilty of a *lot* of criminal conspiracies already.

  • NYPD Placard Abuse

    How many people get free parking from their employers? Not many, so why should the NYPD? If the NYPD was required to commute like typical civilians there would be less crime on the trains, buses and streets. Instead, they issue govt parking permits for business purpose and appoint themselves to regulate themselves. How is this not a conflict on interest. This is another form of police corruption that needs to stop. If You See Something, Say Something – Report abuse of NYPD parking placards! Take pictures & videos then call 311 or the Mayors office! Stop the Abuse!


Bratton, de Blasio Release Guidelines on How to Use Fake Parking Placards

Standing outside 1 Police Plaza this morning, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a sweeping expansion of New York City’s fake parking placard program. “It is deeply, profoundly unfair that an insular cadre of entitled jerks can park in bus stops with impunity, forcing old ladies with canes to shuffle awkwardly into the […]

NYPD Still Resisting Attempts to Reform Parking Placard Abuse

Fraudulent parking placards are rampant in NYC, but NYPD remains opposed to a bill that would require the city to include a barcode on placards to ensure proper enforcement. Testifying before the City Council transportation committee today, NYPD Assistant Commissioner Richard Schroeder cited “significant fiscal, operational, and technological issues that… cannot be resolved within the one year effective […]