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S-COP-LAWS: Two More Brooklyn Precincts Staffed by Reckless Drivers

12:01 AM EDT on March 11, 2019

This is what police driving looks like. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

To protect and serve — or unnerve?

The majority of cops who drive to work at two North Brooklyn stationhouses — and will likely drive in greater numbers if Mayor de Blasio makes good on his recent promise to give them more parking — have driven recklessly, and one-third of the officers have done it more than once, a Streetsblog investigation reveals.

Streetsblog observed 76 personal cars parked in "NYPD-only" spaces outside North Brooklyn's 90th and 94th precinct stationhouses on Friday. Of those 76 vehicles, 60 cars — or 79 percent — had a least one parking or moving violation on their records.

And 46 of the cars — or 60 percent — had at least one red light or speed camera ticket, a serious moving violation that dramatically increases the danger to neighborhood residents. Twenty-five of the police officers' personal vehicles — or 33 percent — had multiple speed camera or red light violations. (Among the general public, roughly 17 percent of drivers have multiple red light or speeding violations.)

The latest analysis follows last week's Streetsblog investigation of police officers' vehicles at the 76th Precinct in Carroll Gardens, where 26 out of 34 personal cars parked in police-only spots outside the station house had at least one ticket. Twenty of the 34 — or 59 percent — had at least one speeding or red-light violation, a far more serious offense that can lead to serious injuries or death. (All of the plates were run through, which automatically compiles camera and parking violations. A reminder: The city's 140 school-zone speed cameras are only in effect during school hours, and issue summonses to car owners, not drivers. Also, it is impossible to know how many officers were pulled over for speeding but were let go without a ticket issued by his or her colleague in blue.)

Taken together, these reports suggest that de Blasio is making a potentially deadly mistake in his plans to build or lease additional parking spaces for police officers — a proposal he unveiled late last month as one solution to the crisis of illegal parking by police officers and other city workers, a practice known as placard abuse.

Police officers' private cars also ring the 94th Precinct stationhouse in Greenpoint. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Police officers' private cars also ring the 94th Precinct stationhouse in Greenpoint. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The city has created more than 120,000 legal parking spaces exclusively set aside for public employees who wish to drive to their city jobs — teachers, firefighters, cops and many other agency workers are all the beneficiary of this subsidized perk. Studies have shown that city employees are less likely to commute by car to their jobs — but that equation changes when the workers are given parking, making them more likely to drive.

The mayor said that he intended to provide more parking for cops as a tribute to their hard work and service to the city.

We can designate more and more parking spaces in the community for our uniformed officers and ... there will be enough parking for them. …. We can also — and we will — purchase parking lots, we will lease parking lots, parking garages, whatever it takes so that our firefighters, our police officers, our EMT’s actually have a place that they know they can park so they don’t need to be someplace that takes away parking from neighborhood residents or the customers of small business. Until we give them that good option, of course, many officers will feel they have no choice. … This is a very worthy investment – it’s fair to our employees but also fair to our neighborhoods. … Our uniformed officers do something very, very special and very powerful for this city, and they deserve special consideration.

The mayor hasn’t put a price tag on his proposal. A City Hall spokesman said the city is currently surveying all of the NYPD and FDNY parking needs so that the de Blasio administration can then evaluate how to move ahead to create more parking for cops, despite documentation that many violate basic driving rules. He said he was motivated because cops are heroes — and because they apparently cannot afford to live in New York City, despite a base salary of $85,292 after five years on the force, an income that is roughly $35,000 above the citywide median income. Fifty-one percent of NYPD officers live outside of the five boroughs.

“Our uniformed officers do something very, very special and very powerful for this city, they deserve special consideration,” he said. "A lot of our officers [are] coming in from very far away for objective reasons, the cost of housing in the city and etc.”

Who are these officers? At the 94th Precinct on Friday afternoon, March 8, there were 27 personal cars parked. Of them:

    • 21 cop cars — 78 percent — had at least one fine.
    • 19 cars — 70 percent — had at least one red light or a speeding.
    • 10 cars — 37 percent — had multiple red light or speeding tickets.

The worst offenders?

    • One cop's car had 24 total tickets dating back to 2014, with six speeding tickets.
    • One car had 23 total tickets dating back to 2013, including eight speeding tickets and two tickets for blocking a fire hydrant.
    • And one car had 45 tickets total since 2013, including four red light tickets, two speeding tickets and three tickets for blocking a hydrant.

At the nearby 90th Precinct stationhouse, there are far more spaces created for police parking, including commandeering a block of Montrose Avenue and part of Broadway under an elevated train. In total, there were 49 vehicles parked in NYPD-only spaces at the stationhouse. Of those 49:

    • 39 police officers' private cars — or roughly 80 percent — had been slapped with at least one ticket.
    • 27 cars — or 55 percent — had at least one serious violation (a red light ticket or a speeding ticket).
    • 15 cars — or 30 percent — had multiple red light or speeding tickets.

The worst offenders?

    • One cop's car had 20 tickets total since just 2017, including one red light ticket and nine speeding tickets.
    • One car had four tickets since 2015 — three of them for running red lights.
    • One car had 25 total tickets dating back to 2013, including six red light tickets and nine speeding tickets.
    • One car had 14 total tickets since 2013, including four red light tickets and two speeding infractions.
    • One car had 18 total tickets since 2013, including seven for speeding, four for running a red light and one for blocking a fire hydrant.
    • One car had 11 total tickets, including five for speeding and one each for running a red light and blocking a fire hydrant.

City Hall declined to comment for this story.

Story was updated to make it clear that camera summonses are issued to cars, regardless of who might have been driving at the time of the alleged infraction.

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