If NYPD Is Cracking Down on License Plate-Obscuring Officers, It’s Sure Hard to Tell

Follow @placardabuse for the stream of incriminating evidence.

This state police officer flaunts being above the law. Photo: @jehiah
This state police officer flaunts being above the law. Photo: @jehiah

In November, Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said that police officers who obscure their license plates to evade tolls and traffic enforcement cameras would be caught and penalized. “There are a couple of things in the City of New York that really bother me and this is one of them,” O’Neill said at the time. “We check within all the precincts and all our different units to make sure none of our official cars have them and none of our private vehicles have them. And if they do, they will be facing disciplinary action.”

But is NYPD’s internal discipline making an impact?

In February, Inside Edition ran a segment about the widespread practice of obscuring plates on police vehicles in Lower Manhattan. And if you follow @placardabuse on Twitter, you’ll see plenty of evidence that officers are still getting away with it. Here’s a look at some offenders @placardabuse and other license plate fraud spotters have recently called out.

Most officers go the basic route of a plastic cover, which shields their vehicle from identification by speed or red-light cameras. Others take extra steps, like the motorist with a state police placard on 23rd Street (above) who taped “THE BOSS” over the first half of the license plate number. (In fairness to NYPD, that placard doesn’t belong to one of their own.)

Or the officers who fold their plates to achieve the same effect:

This NYPD officer also parked on the sidewalk. Photo: @placardabuse
This NYPD officer also parked on the sidewalk. Photo: @placardabuse

One frequent fire hydrant obstructer with both NYPD and handicapped placards picked up five tickets for running red lights and another three for speeding in a school zone in 2015 and 2016, according to NYPD data. Here’s the workaround — an illegal plate cover with some reflective tape over the license number for good measure:

The owner of this vehicle, claims to be an NYPD officer, has received tickets from speed cameras, red light cameras, and bus lane cameras. Photo: @placardabuse
The owner of this vehicle, who claims to be an NYPD officer, has received tickets from speed cameras, red light cameras, and bus lane cameras. Photo: @placardabuse

Meanwhile, in the parking lot at NYPD headquarters, @placardabuse has documented cars with folded license plates and some with no license plates at all.

All this license plate fraud comes on top of garden variety placard abuse like parking illegally on sidewalks and in no standing zones, interfering with deliveries and pedestrian movement.

Commissioner O’Neill said he’d do something about this abuse, but aside from the occasional ticket, NYPD doesn’t seem to be keeping up the pressure on its own offenders.

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Police Use Illegal License Plate Covers to Break Traffic Laws and Cheat Tolls

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After a month with @NYPDONeill on the job, perp cars still getting through @NYPDnews HQ checks with illegal license plate covers.@OIGNYPD pic.twitter.com/g2tRH0sey3 — placard corruption (@placardabuse) October 17, 2016 To gauge what police think about traffic laws and street safety, it’s instructive to observe how they abuse their authority with their personal vehicles. On Twitter, @placardabuse does yeoman’s work […]