S-COP-LAWS: Staten Island Has Lots and Lots of Recklessly Driving Cops

Police officers' private cars at the 122nd Precinct station house in Staten Island.
Police officers' private cars at the 122nd Precinct station house in Staten Island.

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.

Comparing the 120th to regular drivers is even more alarming. As part of our series, we ran the plates of 100 cars parked on typical residential streets in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Only 19 percent of everyday people get multiple moving violations — roughly one-forth the rate of officers at the 120th.

full totals latest

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.

  • William Lawson

    NYPD spokesman Phil Walzak told us, “Well I’m not going to condemn any officers for their behavior, or even acknowledge that it’s a problem. But what I will do is feed you some boilerplate Vision Zero slogans to distract from the issue – which is that New Yorkers are dying because we refuse to enforce laws that we habitually break ourselves.”

  • William Lawson

    “We reached out to Staten Island Borough President Jimmy Oddo, but got no response.” – why would anyone expect a Staten Island Republican to even so much as acknowledge the problem of reckless driving, let alone one caused by infallible NYPD officers who risk their lives every day to save us from gangbangers etc. And let alone one who probably tools around in a large SUV himself thinking “problem? What problem?”

  • I go to SI fairly often to play golf. It is kind of a God forsaken hell hole.

  • jonshen

    The 122 is the Mid-Island precinct (not the South Shore, as stated above).

  • mfs

    This is an important investigation but:
    a) it’s really hard to understand what it’s about from the headlines – S-COP-LAWS is an unintelligible tabloid pun. Took me like 5 reads to get it. Maybe I’m dense, but this all caps BS adds a tremendous amount of noise to Sblog’s page.
    b) what’s the high-level view? you’re going precinct by precinct, and there’s no comparison to your average car parked on the NYC streets. What’s the policy action you want taken? These cars are already getting ticketed. There’s a vague indication

    The shoe leather hitting the beat focus is commendable. But please focus on quality over quantity. I’m reading NYC SBlog less and less and it’s notably jarring how different the tone is from the rest of the Sblog family. I used to read this site a couple times day and now I read it once a week or so, and rarely click into anything other than the headlines.

  • cybertec69

    What does the borough president being republican have anything to do with this story, none, how is the borough president be it him being a republican or Democrat have anything to do with cops not obeying the laws of the road, do you seriously think that this is news. Another idiotic post by your typical leftist libtard, the Democrats running this city to the ground should be your first concern, the exodus is real in NYC and NYS same goes for every other city and state run by the Socialist/Marxists, NJ is just as bad, Illinois, California and the list goes on and on.
    https://nypost.com/2019/03/20/more-than-a-third-of-new-yorkers-say-they-cant-afford-to-live-here/

    https://nypost.com/2019/03/14/de-blasio-wants-to-spend-10b-to-make-manhattan-bigger/

    https://nypost.com/2019/03/09/new-york-city-is-edging-toward-financial-disaster-experts-warn/

    https://nypost.com/2019/02/09/de-blasios-100m-healthcare-plan-doesnt-cover-staten-island/

    https://therealdeal.com/2019/01/26/why-millionaires-are-fleeing-nyc-and-new-jersey/

    https://nypost.com/2019/01/05/democrats-keep-proving-how-detached-they-are-from-reality/

  • cybertec69

    They enforce the laws, it’s the people who don’t follow the rules that is the problem, what exactly do you want the police to do arrest everyone because pretty much everyone has disobeyed some type of law, all you government loving Socialists make me ill. You want government to be your daddy and mommy.
    NYC is seriously overpopulated, have you thought about that for one minute of course not.
    This vision zero is a complete and utter joke, it is nothing more than a money grab by your typical leftists/Socialists. The exodus is real.

  • Mathew

    Just going to throw this out there… You post these articles without proof that it’s actually officers committing these infractions. All you are doing it running the plates of cars parked by the precinct, seeing who has received Speeding/Red light violations via camera and then checking if the registered owner is an officer. However, these enforcement cameras only capture the offense, it doesn’t know who the driver is so only the registered owner gets the ticket. You have no proof that it’s actually the officer who committed the infraction. Maybe the guys son/daughter speeds passed the camera. Maybe it’s the persons wife who did it a few times.. Is it the officer? Probably… But you really don’t know for sure. It’s foolish to try and take action on one person when there is no way to prove that it’s them. That’s why these cameras only issue fines and not points. It makes for a flashy article title though.

  • William Lawson

    Yeah keep telling yourself that. If it’s “people who don’t follow the rules” you’re interested in then why not start with the NYPD, which frequently breaks rules they’re supposed to be enforcing, and gives its members a pass to drive illegally and recklessly without consequence.

    Yes, Vision Zero is a joke. But only because we have pathetic politicians who don’t have the spine to go through with it. Not because it’s a “money grab.” Shitty drivers who think they have the right to speed and blow red lights with impunity, risking the lives of innocent people (and frequently killing kids on crosswalks), will ALWAYS call any effort to curtail their psychotic driving a “money grab.” Always. This opinion should ALWAYS be interpreted as “I couldn’t give a shit about kid’s lives, they’re not mine.”

    I mean if you don’t like the idea of socialism (there is nothing “socialist” about traffic laws) then why not look at it from a libertarian/Randian perspective? The right of the individual to live trumps everything else. You do not have the right to risk other people’s lives by driving recklessly, because that directly abrogates the rights of other individuals to move around without some reckless POS mowing them down. If these roads were under private ownership, the owner could potentially be sued by accident victims for perpetuating unsafe conditions if they permitted reckless driving. So that owner would then be within their rights to impose whatever rules and laws they desired, and to ban anyone who refused to abide from the use of their roads. Plus, they’d be free to install as many “money grabbing” speed cameras they like, and make acceptance of these speed cameras a condition of road use. Charge whatever fine they like. Sue non-payers in court same as anyone else who doesn’t pay their bills. Would you be yelling “socialist!” at them?

  • William Lawson

    blah blah socialist blah blah libtard blah blah Marxist leftist libtard you socialists blah blah you blah blah you libtards leftist socialist marxist blah blah blah here’s some links which have nothing to do with this thread blah blah but here they are because as you can see, libtards blah blah marxists blah blah leftist blah socialists blah blah rant rave

  • Simon Phearson

    Concern troll is concerned.

  • Simon Phearson

    what exactly do you want the police to do arrest everyone because pretty much everyone has disobeyed some type of law, all you government loving Socialists make me ill. You want government to be your daddy and mommy.

    Yeah, I’m going to guess that you go all big-government-socialist-mommy-and-daddy-state when the question of “disobeying laws” comes up in the immigration or drug context.

  • Mathew

    I understand. You can call me a troll. I’m just pointing out a crucial fact. Of course a rational observation can only make me a troll. But if a cop stopped you and gave you a ticket and couldn’t prove it was you in court, you would win. This person should have that same right.

  • Simon Phearson

    Do you understand what a “concern troll” is, or do I need to type it into your google bar for you?

    Recipients of automated traffic tickets have the ability to challenge their tickets in court. What you are objecting to is the way the news coverage doesn’t follow the niceties of criminal procedure. But why should it?

  • Joe R.

    Besides that, the ongoing government subsidies to mass motoring are the single biggest example of socialism in this country. Of course, to some people it’s not socialism when it pays for something which benefits them.

  • Mathew

    Honestly, whatever you call me is irrelevant. No need to waste time with that. But at the same time, there’s no need to be so aggressive.
    But so we are clear, I’m not pretending to support it “but with concern.” I’m very clearly saying that there’s a vital piece of information missing from this statistic. I was only making an observation. I wasn’t necessarily disagreeing either. Is the guy guilty? Maybe, but the two statistics together don’t prove that. And if other uninvolved people are trying to take action against the owner based on the article, it is a problem. I’m not even objecting, I don’t particularly care. I’m only pointing out that his article is making the claim “that these cops are reckless.” The claim has no merit. But the media has no standards either. I’m just pointing the large part that this “investigation” has overlooked.

    Yes, the owner of the vehicle can fight it. But the camera takes pictures. Again, those cameras only capture the vehicle. Unless it captures the driver, the only fact is that the vehicle committed the infraction.

  • Simon Phearson

    I am calling you a “concern troll” as a shorthand for describing the rhetoric and reasoning you’re using, which is misleading and false.

    It’s perfectly true to note that the method they’re using to link vehicles to tickets does not provide ironclad evidence that the police officers and staff who presumably drove the surveyed vehicles to their precincts were responsible for all of the tickets the story is pinning on them.

    But is it a pretty reasonable inference? Yes. Is there any simple way to prove that the officers/staff in question are 100% “guilty” of the crimes that triggered the tickets? No.

  • Mathew

    It’s funny, you say my reasoning is false in the first paragraph. But in your second paragraph you say that the method used is not ironclad evidence that the officers who own the surveyed vehicles did it… This was my entire point from the beginning… Which you are agreeing and disagreeing with… Make up your mind. Is it really reasonable? No, not particularly. But with your personal bias maybe it is. Merited or not.

    But just so we are clear, reckless driving infers that the driver unreasonably endangered other users of that highway. So, now we have no proof that the operator is the officer and we have no proof that the vehicle has endangered anyone else. Can we make wild assumptions? Yeah, sure. Are the reasonable? Absolutely not.

    One thing is clear though, you’re the only troll here. As far as I’m concerned, this converstion is over.

  • Simon Phearson

    So, you don’t think it’s reasonable to infer that the police officers who drive and park these vehicles in their precincts were also driving the same vehicles when they were photographed breaking the law?

  • SBDriver

    You make a valid point, but we all know cops drive like they are above the law because they essentially are when it comes to traffic violations.

    If it actually is family members or acquaintances of cops getting such a disproportionate number of tickets in officers personal vehicles, that would indicate a much greater problem.

  • Gersh Kuntzman

    To be clear, all of that is noted in the story. We only check the plates of cars parked in NYPD-only spaces or illegally parked with NYPD placards.

  • Gersh Kuntzman
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