Want to be safe in Staten Island? Don't be on the streets when cops are driving to or leaving their station houses.
Two Staten Island precincts — the 120th in St. George and the 122nd on the South Shore — are staffed with cops who are among the worst drivers for repeat serious violations caught on the city's school zone speed camera system.
How bad? In the congested 120th, which includes Borough Hall, the courthouse, the baseball stadium and the Staten Island Ferry terminal, we ran the plates of 62 cars parked in NYPD-only spaces, or parked illegally with department-issued placards and found:
58 of the police employees' personal vehicles - that's 93.5 percent! - had received at least one ticket of some kind.
54 of the cars - or 87 percent! - had committed at least one serious moving violation, such as running a red light or speeding.
And 46 cars - which is 74 percent! - had more than one of the serious violations.
Those numbers are even more alarming than other precincts that have been part of Streetsblog's two-week investigation into recklessly driving police officers. Up to this point, we had run the plates on 803 cars belonging to cops or other police employees parked outside about a dozen station houses in Brooklyn Queens and Manhattan. Those numbers were bad, but not as bad as the 120th.
Of the cars we checked:
619 — or 77 percent — had been ticketed at least once.
471 — or 58 percent — had been ticketed for at least one serious moving violation.
And 300 — or 37 percent — had received multiple serious violation tickets.
Staten Island's 120th Precinct has double the rate of other NYPD officers who have multiple speeding tickets.
Staten Island's 122nd Precinct had safer drivers than the 120th, but those cops were still far less safe than the citywide average. At the 122nd, we were able to only check the driving records of 25 cars visibly parked in NYPD-only spots, or parked illegally with placards, and discovered:
17 of the police employees' personal vehicles — 68 percent — had received at least one ticket of some kind.
16 of the cars — or 64 percent — had committed at least one serious moving violation, such as running a red light or speeding.
And 12 cars — which is 48 percent — had more than one of the serious violations.
Add it all up, and here are the new citywide totals from Streetsblog's "S-cop-laws" series:
We've now run 890 police employees' cars through the Howsmydrivingny database.
694 cars — or 78 percent — have at least one ticket.
541 cars — or 61 percent — have at least one serious moving violation.
358 cars — or 40 percent — have multiple serious moving violations, the most deadly type of infraction.
(Caveats: 1. These numbers do not include cops who had defaced their license plates — or covered or removed them entirely — which is epidemic around Staten Island station houses. One cop, for example, had 10 tickets for not having a front license plate in just 12 months — but there's no telling how many moving violations he didn't receive as a result of his illegal activity. 2. School zone speed cameras only operate in 140 places citywide, so very few are on Staten Island. 3. Speed zone cameras only operate during school hours, greatly reducing the number of speeding tickets that might otherwise be issued. 4. Cops are very unlikely to write tickets to each other, also depressing the number of summonses.)
We reached out to Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo, but got no response.
NYPD spokesman Phil Walzak told us, "“Everyone in New York City must follow traffic laws. The NYPD has vigorously supported Vision Zero and enthusiastically promotes safe driving, and the results have been dramatic: fewer lives lost due to traffic collisions, and significantly safer New York City streets over the last five years.”
Perhaps, but the worst offenders on Staten Island include: one cop in the 120 who has 10 tickets since March, 2018 for not having a plate, which likely means he has many camera violations that could not be recorded; one cop with five speeding tickets and one red light ticket — whose car would have been impounded under the previsions of a pending City Council bill; four cops with four speeding tickets and one red-light ticket; one with five speeding tickets and three red-light tickets; one with six speeding tickets and one red-light ticket; one with seven speeding tickets since 2014; one with seven red-light tickets and one speeding ticket; one cop with three speeding tickets and a car covered in "Make America Great Again" and Second Amendment stickers; one with 10 speeding tickets and one red-light ticket; and one with seven red-light tickets and 10 speeding tickets, who also would have lost his car under that council bill.
Educated at the Sorbonne and the Yale School of Drama, Gersh Kuntzman is obviously not the person being described here. We're talking about tabloid legend Gersh Kuntzman, who has been with New York newspapers since 1989, including stints at the New York Daily News, the Post, the Brooklyn Paper and even a cup of coffee with the Times. He's also the writer and producer of "Murder at the Food Coop," which was a hit at the NYC Fringe Festival in 2016, and “SUV: The Musical” in 2007. Email Gersh at email@example.com