MORE S-COP-LAWS: Investigation Reveals More Reckless NYPD Drivers — But de Blasio Doesn’t Care
12:01 AM EDT on March 12, 2019
Mayor de Blasio's plan to give cops more free parking at their station houses is proving to be his Vision Zero blind spot.
For the third straight day, Streetsblog spot-checked the driving records of police officers — adding eight more precincts to the growing list of areas of the city endangered by reckless cops in their personal cars.
On Monday, Streetsblog checked the records 309 police officers' personal vehicles at Brooklyn's 84th, 88th, 72nd, 68th, 66th, 70th, 62nd and 77th precincts and discovered the following:
- 226 officers' vehicles — or 73 percent — had been ticketed at least once
- 175 officers' vehicles — or 56 percent — had been hit with very serious summons for speeding or running a red light
- And 129 officers' vehicles — or 41 percent — had gotten two or more of the serious moving violation summonses, which only kick in if a driver is going more than 10 miles per hour above the speed limit or races through a red light (suggesting reckless disregard for human life).
- Oh, and one of the worst offenders we encountered all day was parked in the Commanding Officer's space at the 84th Precinct (Captain Kenneth Perez did not return our call).
Those numbers came after Streetsblog reported Monday that cops in two of North Brooklyn's station houses — the 90th in Williamsburg and the 94th in Greenpoint — had atrocious personal driving records. In the 94th Precinct, 37 percent of the personal vehicles of the officers who are supposed to protect and serve had gotten multiple moving violations. In the neighboring 90th, 30 percent of cops were repeat moving violation offenders. Those numbers were roughly similar to what we found at the 76th Precinct in Carroll Gardens last week.
(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.)
Many of these officers would not even be able to drive to work if the city had passed a pending bill by Council Member Brad Lander that would empower enforcement officers to disable vehicles with more than five speeding or red light tickets in a year.
But Mayor de Blasio is not concerned.
Streetsblog raised the question of police recklessness as part of the mayor's question-and-answer session with reporters on Monday afternoon in the context of the mayor's proposal to build or lease more parking spaces for cops so that they can drive to work — putting the public in grave danger because studies show that city workers who get free parking are far more likely to drive to their workplaces.
Given the numbers of cops who are repeat offenders on the most dangerous of moving violations, we wanted to know if the mayor was worried about his plan to encourage even more driving. Here is his answer in full (minus a bit of testiness between the mayor and this reporter):
I disagree with that on its face. ... The fact is these are our first responders, we expect them to show up no matter what. We expect them to stay when we need them to stay. A lot of them live quite far from where they work. It is important for everyone to drive safely. That’s what Vision Zero is all about and Vision Zero is filled with consequences and you are seeing more and more consequences each year. But it makes no sense to say, "OK, we know a lot or our uniform service officers have to drive to work and we are not going to give them a place to park." That makes no sense. We are clearly very adamant that everyone has to follow the rules and there are consequences for those who don’t. But if we want to stop placard abuse we need to do something the root causes.
In a follow-up question, we asked the mayor about his use of the words "have to" in relation to commuting by car. Certainly, 51 percent of the police force lives outside the five boroughs, but the base salary of a New York City police officer is $85,292 after five years on the force, an income that is roughly $35,000 above the citywide median income. There is no way police officer "have to" drive to work because there is no way a police officer has to live outside the city on that salary.
Again, the mayor was irritated.
"I just said it in the beginning of my answer and I said it in the beginning of my answer last time," he said, referring to a similar question Streetsblog had asked when the parking plan was first introduced. "Because a lot of them live very far away from the city, there’s not always great mass transit options, a lot of them have to stay all sorts of hours, a lot of them have to show up on short notice. It stands to reason."
It actually does not, said the co-director of Transportation Alternatives, the safe streets advocacy group.
"These numbers are beyond disturbing," said Marco Conner. "They reveal a law enforcement agency acting with impunity and protecting its own, to the detriment of all New Yorkers."
Conner also saw the transgressions in the context of an administration that is currently engaged in a crackdown against low-paid delivery workers on electric bicycles rather than off-duty cops in 3,000-pound machines rushing to get back to the suburbs.
"We need to see leadership from City Hall and the NYPD combatting this actual harmful behavior instead of wasting time harassing and hurting immigrant food delivery workers by repeating the worst days of our city's broken windows policing," Conner said.
How bad are the overall numbers so far in Streetsblog's ongoing investigation of reckless drivers we're calling s-cop-laws?
So far, we've checked all personal vehicles parked in NYPD-only parking — or parked illegally with a placard — at 11 station houses in Brooklyn. The total numbers are shocking:
In all, there were 419 total cars:
- 312 cars — or 74 percent — had received some ticket or summons.
- 241 cars — or 57 percent — had been slapped with a serious moving violation such as running a red light or speeding.
- And 164 cars — or 39 percent — were repeat offenders of the most serious moving violations.
And the worst offenders — and there are many — are so bad that even Mayor de Blasio might consider disciplining them:
At the 72nd Precinct in Sunset Park:
- One cop drives a car with 45 tickets total, including 13 speeding tickets and 1 red light ticket.
- Another drives a car with five speeding tickets since 2017.
- And another 72nd Precinct cop has eight speeding tickets since 2017.
- One has 45 tickets since 2016, including four speeding tickets and three tickets for blocking a fire hydrant.
- Another public servant at the 72nd had 10 tickets since 2016, including three speeding tickets and three red light tickets.
At the neighboring 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge:
- One cop rang up 34 tickets since 2014, including 17 for speeding and one for running a red light.
- Another cop in the same command has 29 tickets dating back to 2013, with eight for speeding and three for running red lights.
- A colleague has 14 tickets since 2014, including five for speeding and one for running a red light.
- Another has 25 tickets since 2015, including 11 for speeding and one for running a red light.
- Another has eight speeding tickets and three red light tickets since 2014.
- Another has 36 tickets since 2014, including five serious moving violations.
In Fort Greene's 88th Precinct, the worst offenders include:
- One cop with eight red light tickets, one speeding ticket and two tickets for covering his or her license plate — an indication that this cop probably avoided other tickets.
- One cop has five speeding tickets and three red light tickets since 2014.
In Brooklyn Heights' 84th Precinct, the worst offenders include:
- The car that was parked in the commanding officer's spot has 16 tickets since 2015, including 11 for speeding and three for running red lights.
- Other cops are living down to their CO's example. One cop has 26 tickets since 2014, including seven for speeding and five for red lights.
- Another cop has 12 speeding tickets and two red light tickets since 2013.
- Another got six speeding tickets and one red light ticket in 2018 alone.
In Bensonhurst's 62nd Precinct, the rogues gallery includes:
- One cop with 28 tickets in all, including six speeding tickets, two red light tickets and eight tickets for parking at a fire hydrant. (We saw his car parked illegally in a bike lane with an NYPD placard.)
- Another officer had 30 tickets total, including 20 for speeding and four for running red lights.
- Another had eight speeding tickets, plus one ticket for covering his plate.
At the 77th Precinct of Crown Heights:
- One cop has racked up four speeding tickets since 2017.
- Another has five speeding tickets and one red light ticket over the same period.
- Another has eight speeding tickets within a year — one of many cops who would be taken off the road under Lander's bill.
- Another cop would also be off the road, thanks to his eight red light and eight speeding tickets — part of his overall 29 tickets.
- Another cop had a fairly routine seven speeding tickets and two red-light tickets.
In Borough Park's 66th Precinct, there were many s-cop-laws:
- One cop has racked up 31 tickets since 2016, including 15 for speeding and two for running red lights.
- Another had five speeding tickets — and one red light ticket — since 2017.
- Another had 18 total tickets, including seven for speeding and two for red lights.
In the 70th Precinct, the worst offenders include:
- A cop who racked up 22 tickets, including five for speeding, two for running red lights and one for covering his plate (and likely avoiding other charges).
- Another cop had 13 tickets total: 12 for speeding and one for running a red light.
- Another cop's 22 tickets comprised 20 speeding and two red-light tickets.
- And one cop had 32 tickets, including 17 speeding tickets and one red-light ticket.
- And, finally, one cop had four speeding and four red-light cameras.
with Julianne Cuba, David Meyer and Ben Verde
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