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Source: NYPD Lets Civilians Conduct Traffic Control for Hanukkah Parade

We never did get a response from NYPD about the motorized Lubavitcher Hanukkah parade where civilians with lights and sirens on their SUVs made a mess of traffic control on Sixth Avenue. But a source affiliated with the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council filled in the blanks, saying the parade is authorized by NYPD. The source asked to remain anonymous to preserve his relationship with police. While NYPD has not responded to our request to confirm this information, the source was clearly familiar with details of the parade, his account was internally consistent, and he had no discernible motive to mislead.

The parade consists of about 200 motor vehicles (including at least one RV called a "mitzvah tank" bearing the likeness of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson) and follows a route that begins in Crown Heights and ends at Sixth Avenue and 59th Street, where participants disperse to distribute menorahs, he said.

Accompanying the parade are three NYPD highway patrol cars and about 10 to 15 vehicles with Crown Heights Shmira, according to the source. Shmira is affiliated with the 71st Precinct through NYPD's Civilian Observation Patrol program, which the department says consists of "volunteers" who "patrol their own neighborhoods and report suspicious and criminal activity that require Police attention."

The training for the COP program includes how to block streets, the source said, and the Shmira members are authorized by NYPD to perform traffic control during this parade (and only during this parade). The black traffic control SUVs in the video belong to Shmira members, who are authorized by NYPD to have lights and sirens, according to the source. Other than the parade, he said, the lights and sirens are only supposed to be used when responding to "a real emergency call."

h/t Bucky Turco for the initial tip and video

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