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

Latest report follows Streetsblog's earlier investigation of the 76th Precinct in Carroll Gardens, whose car-commuting cops were also repeat offenders.

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

  • All Modes of Travel

    Someone should also tally how many bikers are running lights.

    If you’re gonna talk about “dramatically increasing the danger to neighborhoods” then you should also be out here campaigning for safe biking practices as well. How many times do you call out the significant percentage of a class of road users (bikes) who run multiple red lights on EVERY trip? YES, A bike won’t kill you, but I’d rather not be hit by ANY vehicles today.

    You all can start the flame war, or you can face the facts that bicycling has a serious image problem amongst the percentage of people who DON’T bike. Every time one of us runs a light to keep momentum it reflects poorly on ALL of us.

    Thanks,
    Pedestrian, Driver, Bicyclist, Motorcyclist

  • Joker, Smoker, Midnight Toker

    Congrats on this textbook example of whataboutism.

  • All Modes of Travel

    Well, it wouldn’t be Streetsblog if there wasn’t a “What About the Dangers of Drivers” article every day so….

  • djx

    Jay walkers too! They’re going around almost killing people.

    NEVER FORGET.

  • William Lawson

    Bikes kill an average of zero people in this city on an annual basis. They don’t pollute, they barely take up any road space. They don’t stop emergency vehicles from getting through intersections. If cyclists were killing 30,000 people a year in the US and causing 100’s of 1000’s of premature deaths as a direct result of the pollution they spew, then it would be a prudent use of our finite law enforcement resources to crack down on them. Unfortunately for you, they’re pretty much innocuous, kill nobody and represent a future of urban mobility which doesn’t involve selfish slobs yelling in gridlock traffic before mowing down mothers with strollers in crosswalks. Right off the bat, we have the objective basis for moral high ground.

    We don’t need to start a flame war. We just need to present the facts calmly and rationally, something which the anti-cyclist lobby seems unwilling or unable to do. The “image problem” that we have is, essentially, YOUR problem, because it’s the result of YOUR ignorance and YOUR prejudice.

  • SteveVaccaro

    How many defaced or otherwise non-readable plates did you find, Streetsblog?

  • Simon Phearson

    “Safe biking practices” is not necessarily the same thing as “legal biking practices.” Just for starters.

    But by all means, let’s apply the same standard to scofflaw cop parkers that we do to cyclists. Since we commonly cite cyclist scofflaw behavior as a reason not to add protected bike lanes to streets, we shouldn’t add parking for cops until they can demonstrate respect for our parking laws. Since every discussion about a dead cyclist invites commentary about “safe cycling,” we should mention, in every story about a dead cop, that cops often don’t follow the law and are probably to blame for their own deaths.

  • Simon Phearson

    I would expect that any blog dedicated to transportation issues would need to be highly focused on the problems posed by drivers and transportation networks designed to serve primarily their interests. In the broader context, the problem of scofflaw cycling merits hardly a blip.

  • Jacob

    and this is almost certainly a vast under-counting of the danger, given the rampant culture of “Professional courtesy”. A flash of a badge and speed ticket magically disappears. Most infractions undercount dangerous driving, since cops aren’t everywhere. What percent of the actual infractions do these tickets to cops represent?

  • Tooscrapps

    You should have signed it as “Avid Cyclist” so that we know that you’re an expert.

  • Jacob

    Drivers killed almost 1,000 people in the last 4 years. In the last 12 years, drivers killed more people than were killed in 9/11.

  • r

    Do you write to Car and Driver magazine asking why they don’t review more bicycles?

  • stairbob

    This quote is precisely why I have never and will never cast a vote for Bill de Blasio:

    [S]o 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

    He really believes that the only just usage for public space is cars.

  • eastphilliamsburg

    Great point

  • HamTech87

    If De Blasio believes that more cops keeping an eye on our city makes it safer, then he should want all those officers traveling to work by bus, subway, walking, scootering or bicycling. It would add countless hours of police presence to the city, albeit off-duty, without any impact on the city budget.

  • NYCyclist

    And who knows how many moving violation tickets these cops got out of by flashing their badge when pulled over.

  • JimberTimbers

    The clean looking cars with dark tinted front windshields, thick license plate covers and an overall blacked out/murdered out aesthetic, those are the typical cop personal vehicle. It’s usually a Jeep of some sort, badge removed with one small black and white American flag or skull type sticker on the back. Firefighters definitely drive Jeeps too, but less tinted, more raggedy and with big FDNY stickers on it.

  • Joe R.

    “Keeping momentum” isn’t the only reason, or the primary reason, why cyclists run red lights. In general it’s safer to do so, both for the cyclist and everyone else. Most cyclists who pass red lights yield to pedestrian and motor cross traffic, if for no other reason than self-preservation.

    The problem is the law hasn’t caught up to reality. Yielding at red lights should be legal for both cyclists and pedestrians.

  • hey all

    i’m an AVID cyclist and stroller pushing parent who also happens to drive a modified uparmored hummer with a triple gun rack, roll bars, bull bars, spiked hubcaps, no plates front and back, THREE placard vests, and the ability to roll coal at the push of a button. which of these things worries me for real?

    it’s strollers. strollers, pushed by holier-than-thou moms and dads and nannies, always edging off the curb, always jaywalking when no cars are around. I’ve seen a nanny (i’m not going to say where from because i’m not a racist #alllivesmatterbutmostlywhitepeople) just blatantly come within 10 feet of an elderly woman on the street MORE THAN ONCE. until we get the scourge of strollers under control, we should leave coal rolling murder vehicles alone.

  • Aloyicious

    Cops can’t afford to live in the city? LOL the city is building tons of affordable housing with income requirements that cops easily meet. But they don’t want to live here and they most definitely don’t want to take mass transit. And how does this square with the Green New Deal? Do certain Democrats get to opt out?

  • They don’t want to live in the city because they opt to live in what Ron Kuby so accurately called Whitelandia, rather than in the City amongst the people whom they hold in contempt and whom they openly refer to as animals.

  • William Lawson

    The firehouse near me has it’s own parking lot. They park on the sidewalk next to it even when it’s half empty. If you give one of these placard abusing trough feeders more parking lots, it won’t make it any less likely that they’ll park illegally. If it’s so much as 0.01% more convenient to leave their SUV on the sidewalk, that’s where they’ll leave it. De Blasio will never do anything to change this problem until he tackles the issue of the NYPD’s institutional corruption and their unwillingness to police each other.

  • William Lawson

    White jeeps are popular with both NYPD and FDNY. I always just presumed it was a Long Island thing. Anyway whenever I see one of them in motion, its usually being driven jerkily by a jerk

  • AMH

    We need so many cameras!

  • HTOakville Library

    Mr. Vaccaro,

    Could you possibly direct me to the source of your quotation regarding the 1909 law around leaving the scene of an accident used in your 2013 blog post “100 Years Ago, Hit-and-Run Was a Felony in New York. Could It Be Again?” (https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2013/03/12/100-years-ago-hit-and-run-was-a-felony-in-new-york-could-it-be-again/)?:

    “One of the new motor vehicle laws enacted in 1909 was ‘leaving the scene of an accident’ by the operator of a motor vehicle, which was made punishable as a felony, with up to two years of imprisonment:

    ‘Any person operating a motor vehicle, who, knowing that injury has been caused to a person or property . . . leaves the place of said injury or accident, without stopping and giving his name, residence, including street and street number, and operator’s license number to the injured party, or to a police officer . . . shall be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.'”

    Thank you in advance.

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