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Bay Ridge

Entitled Cops’ Car-Culture ‘Lifestyle’ on Display in Brooklyn

12:01 AM EDT on July 19, 2019

A police placard. Placards are routinely abused by NYPD officers, who use them to park their personal vehicles illegally near their jobs at precints.

Only the little people take the subway.

Yet another police officer has pulled back the veil on the NYPD's destructive car culture — and at the same time exhibited an elitism unbecoming to those who supposedly "protect and serve" — by arguing that cops shouldn't have to take the subway to work because their jobs and "lifestyle" are so important that they can't suffer the inconveniences of the haphazard transit system.

In other words, like the rest of us (oh, except that cops get free use of the subway and buses, even though few take advantage).

The latest reminder of this sense of entitlement blew up the internet this week, thanks to a tweet by Chris F, who posted a letter she received from an officer at the 68th Precinct after she complained about illegal parking of cops' personal vehicles near the Bay Ridge station house.

Bay Ridge cops are some of the worst scofflaws when it comes to moving violations, a Streetsblog investigation found. Seventy-three percent had been ticketed at least once, and fully 41 percent had gotten two or more of the serious moving violation summonses, which are issued only if a driver is going more than 10 miles per hour above the speed limit or runs a red light (suggesting reckless disregard for human life).

Yet the officer answered Chris F with a tone of polite disdain.

“Please consider that many officers and firefighters in the 68th Precinct travel far distances to come to work and keep the city safe,” says the Oct. 10 email from Neighborhood Coordination Officer Lumumba David. “Public transportation is not a viable option for the majority officers that work here considering they have families and other obligations that would make public transportation not a feasible option for their lifestyle. ... Police officers and firefighters work 24 hours a day 365 days a year [and] public transportation is scarce during certain shifts.”

Let's unpack that for a minute: What Officer David is saying is that cops have to drive to work because they live far from the city — and they have "families and other obligations" that, apparently, no one else has. Living like other late-shift workers is just incompatible with the cop "lifestyle." (Reminder: 51 percent of cops have chosen to live in the suburbs.)

Meanwhile, plenty of New Yorkers — most of whom live in the city — work at night and must rely on the increasingly failing subways to get to their jobs. According to a report by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, non-traditional commuters  — those working outside the 9-to-5 shift — represent a growing part of subway ridership, rising by 39 percent, from 254,922 to 355,019, in the last 25 years.

These include healthcare, hospitality, retail, food services, and entertainment workers, who account for 40 percent of private-sector jobs.

And they suffer from the city's disinvestment in transit. “The [subways’] failure to respond to surging off-peak ridership has left many service workers in the lurch — compromising their quality of life and threatening their livelihoods,” Stringer wrote in the report, “Left in the Dark.”

“Indeed, arriving just a few minutes late can mean not just an inconvenience for their customers, but also a sharp reprimand, docked pay, or even termination,” Stringer added.

But those workers aren’t enabled — nay, encouraged — by city leaders to drive to work and then park wherever they want. Those workers don't get parking placards and spaces right at their workplace.

Of course, Officer David was merely parroting Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill, who have excused the rampant illegal parking by officers many times by insisting that the city-issued placards that enable it merely respond to the needs of officers from the suburbs. Some 150,000 city placards are in circulation — which effectively allow holders to park wherever they want, whenever they want, and which are held by workers from agencies as diverse as the Human Resources Administration and the Department of Education — a number that has grown by thousands on the mayor's watch.

"The fact is these are our first responders, we expect them to show up no matter what," de Blasio told reporters in response to a Streetsblog question. "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. ... 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.”

What makes no sense is having half of a police force live outside the community it serves — and then giving it special accommodation for that poor lifestyle choice. Officer David was not available for comment. One officer said he wasn’t expected at work until 3 or 4 p.m. on Thursday, but then when Streetsblog called back, another officer said David wouldn't return until Tuesday.

We'll call back.

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