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

Note from 68th Precinct excuses illegal parking because 'public transportation [is] not a feasible option for their lifestyle.'

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

  • Vooch

    Federal IRS law is the value of a placard needs to have witholding taxes applied.

    A placard valid in lower Manhattan is worth at least $1,000 a month. The City should withhold at least $400/month from each placard holder’s base wages.

  • Daphna

    When was the top picture taken? That placard expired in 2012 – 7 years ago!!! How can the NYPD defend an officer using an expired placard? If the NYPD deemed that that officer needed a current placard, they would have renewed it. The NYPD obviously did not deem that this person needed a placard, yet still defends officers committing the illegal act of using false/expired placards.

  • Boeings+Bikes

    The caption just says “a police placard.” I don’t think this particular photo or placard has anything to do with the story.

  • AJ

    My lifestyle also includes my work and my home. Can I get a free parking pass too?

  • Anthony R. Calvanico

    But your job doesn’t include saving lives! Big difference! Why would you complain about people getting to work and have a parking spot that are in charge of protecting the very same people who are complaining? Wouldn’t you want those people to have as smooth or commute to ensure that they’re ready to protect and serve?

  • Anthony R. Calvanico

    No matter how all of you try to spin it there are jobs of more significance pertaining to saving human lives and assuring safety. This is a basic pecking order of common sense but sadly New York City has become a haven of people who hold a plethora of arbitrary degrees yet lack this very basic skill. Not to point the finger at any other profession but I don’t ever recall anyone complaining about physicians parking permits or license plates? Nor do I hear anyone complain about judges and their parking privileges? And I assure you all that most if not all of those professions not only don’t reside within the 5 boroughs they don’t even live in the same state! They live in Greenwich Ct or Alpine, NJ but no one is protesting about their perks per say? Many of you claim that police officers have a culture of privilege and think they are better than the average Joe yet many of you not condemning professions such as Drs and Judges are basically saying that they are more important than cops or fireman or corrections and sanitation workers. Fact is many live in the suburbs because they had no choice because they could no longer afford to live in the very city they were born and raised in and loved! Why? Because of the self entitled hipsters who gentrified these areas! And now these implants are chronically complaining about the parking privileges of the men and women who are willing to put their lives at risk for all of you? Sorry but being a glass blower or a Pilates instructor is not a job that protects lives! So that’s why not every job had parking privileges! As far as taking public transportation to work? Really from Suffolk county? From Putnam? And if you’re all ok with having an overworked and now stressed out officer getting to work and being in charge of your communities safety? Well then you might as well use that useless sheepskin you call a degree as a dart board because none of you learned a thing! What’s next? Take away the cops firearms? Make them social workers to show up and appease everyone and anyone without any accountability? Well that culture is soon on the horizon abc crime rates will soon return to the all time highs of the late 80’s and early 90’s!

  • le_corbu

    protect and serve or maim and murder? Yes, let’s give the police all the parking so they can better maim and murder.

  • spikex

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get that you are important and without a cop car on every corner we would all be instantly murdered. If NYC didn’t have about twice as many cops as it actually needs, I might have some sympathy to this view. As many have pointed out, you are more likely to be killed as a 7-11 clerk than a cop.(But yeah, being a cop is a difficult job some of the time). Its time for NYC cops to get off their high horse and actually try to become part of their NYC communities. That means compromising on some things like the currently totally unregulated parking passes. Step 1: make a parking pass for a private cop vehicle correspond to a single precinct area so that its not a free pass to park anywhere anytime. If you are off duty, pay for parking like everyone else. Step 2: enforce the rules against all the fake and expired parking passes. Step 3: enforce rules against parking in crosswalks, fire hydrants and bike lanes. Its time for NYC cops to stop pretending they are gods and come down to earth with the rest of us peons.

  • Joe R.

    There is always a choice to live in the city instead of the suburbs. This could be enabled in any one of the following ways:

    1) The salary for police can be increased to enable them to afford to live in the city.
    2) NYC can build housing for police above or near their precinct which it lets them use at no cost (this would be a fringe benefit the same as health insurance). As a bonus, NYC would get a more reliable police force as many cops would now be able to walk to work.
    3) They can live with relatives or friends to split the cost of housing. This is an arrangement many people already do in NYC who make far less than the police.

    What’s next? Take away the cops firearms?

    If it were up to me that would happen unless NYC changes its gun laws to allow citizens without criminal records to also carry firearms. I don’t think the police should be any better armed than law-abiding citizens. To do otherwise is to invite tyranny and police brutality.

  • Simon Phearson

    Doctor and judge privileges are just as problematic. It’s just that, for some reason, I don’t see them abusing those privileges with quite the same frequency as we see police placards, sort-of-placards, and outright-falsification-of-placards in places where they simply shouldn’t be.

    You think the NYPD have been pushed to live outside the city? On the salaries your organization has negotiated on their behalf? Unlikely. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a police placard on a cheap Hyundai in the city. These cops have enough money to buy luxury SUVs, they have enough money to live in a more affordable part of the city.

    The police are not unique in having to work long hours at unpredictable times. The fact that they complain about how hard it is to live their “lifestyles” without a free parking benefit that no one else enjoys just shows how out of touch they (and you) are. You think it’s easy for the rest of us? You think the everyone in the city makes $200k a year or more? Get real, buddy.

  • Simon Phearson

    I’m not sure why you feel like the “benefit” that cops provide the city has to be explained so much.

    If people really felt the NYPD was protecting them, as you say, why would they complain? The answer is that they don’t actually see or feel that protection. Whenever I see an NYPD officer, I wonder more whether they’re about to engage in some unconstitutional searches/seizures than I do feel relief that they’re “protecting” me or anyone else.

    So maybe instead of representing the NYPD community poorly as an internet commenter, you should think more about how the NYPD can make more apparent their efforts to “protect” the city.

  • Not a Liberal

    Who would want to live in Diblasio’s liberal utopia and sanctuary shithole…. the dangers of living in a city undergoing de-policing , of the liberal Democrat run cities that cater to thugs, criminals, illegals and radicals while painting targets on the cops is known better to cops . Who would expect those who see the effects of thug hugging Democrats to want to live there? Simply put if you knew what they knew and had half a brain you’d flee too, unless you benefit from the catering to thugs, criminals, illegals and radicals… NYC is an environmental, philosophical, Political, social cesspool and I for one wouldn’t want to swim in it. At the current rate od descent America’s cities are destroying themselves and bitching that the taxpaying , law abiding types are fleeing. Good luck NYC you’re getting what you voted for Dinkins 2.0.

  • Voice of reality

    Get over it. You whine like little girls. Cops work midnights, holidays and miss important family events. They have the highest suicide, alcoholism and divorce rates because of how stressful their job is. While your home on thanksgiving or while your watching your child’s school play the cop is missing this time with his family to keep you safe. And you want to cry about him having a “perk” for good parking. How about you switch it up. Work those crazy hours, miss time with your family, expose yourself to deadly situations and you can have that stupid parking plaque. It’s actually comical to read you cry about this issue. Your 100 percent right. Cops shouldn’t come from their awesome communities to try and make your liberal sewer safe. Your too ungrateful and undeserving. And yes their is an attitude of entitlement. Because it’s earned. You boo from the stands because you couldn’t make the team.

  • Joe R.

    Cops work midnights, holidays and miss important family events.

    My brother does all of that also and he doesn’t get a parking placard.

    They have the highest suicide, alcoholism and divorce rates because of how stressful their job is.

    If the job is too stressful you know where the door is. While I sympathize, there’s nothing forcing anyone to stay at a job which is ruining their health.

    While your home on thanksgiving or while your watching your child’s school play the cop is missing this time with his family to keep you safe.

    The police aren’t there to “keep you safe”, or to protect any one citizen. Even the Supreme Court said so. They’re there to take a report after the fact and hopefully catch the bad guy(or gal).

    Cops shouldn’t come from their awesome communities to try and make your liberal sewer safe.

    Anyone who calls the city they’re serving a liberal sewer doesn’t belong on the NYPD. It’s exactly because of that attitude that people are complaining about your special privileges. Also, the entitled attitude doesn’t end with just parking placards. Cops also go through red lights and stop signs when they’re not on call (I nearly got hit twice because of that). They park on sidewalks near police stations. They park in bike lanes (a placard doesn’t allow this). Maybe if more people in this city actually felt the police were there to help them instead of harass them for petty offenses they might overlook some of the things in my list. The NYPD acts like a fucking occupation force. It wasn’t like this 20 or 30 or 50 years ago. My late father was a sergeant for the HRA police for over 25 years. Even he said the cops today are a bunch of arrogant assholes.

  • We have a lot of respect for people who save lives : nurses save lives on a regular basis and yet they take the train and bus most of them for over an hour to get home. And obviously they have families, children.. etc..
    the commute by car is not smooth, with congestion and major unpredictable delays due to crashes or road work.
    Having police in the buses and subway would be a major benefit to make us feel safe and make you closer to those you protect. It would be a huge PR and real benefit to the NYPD and to all of us.

  • Seymour Butz

    plenty of city administrators are given parking placards despite the fact that their jobs don’t include saving lives so there goes that argument

  • Seymour Butz

    you’re late to the game here, plenty of people are pissed off at those fake parking placards given out by the union to doctors claiming their police surgeons and it’s also b.s. that a judge should get a special parking placard to park illegally. so what precinct to you report to? you didn’t have to move to Suffolk County, I used to do the commute from Huntington to NYC for my job, I took the train, my employer didn’t offer me a garage to house my car but they did encourage public transportation by providing a small stipend to help pay for it. Cops and fire fighters are given free use of public transportation and that is all they deserve.

  • Seymour Butz

    AGAIN occifer (I don’t respect you enough to spell that correctly) plenty of people work overnight shifts, work on holidays, miss time with family b/c that is what work requires of adults but you think you deserve a “perk” that allows you to store your chariot of convenience wherever the hell you see fit regardless of the impact it has on the safety of the community. People would actually be a lot safer on public transportation if police and fire fighter presence was more prominent on public transportation and there would likely also be less fare evasion.

  • SPQR

    And funny how cops will gladly accept a hefty salary, benefits, and pension from our “sewer” and “shit hole.” They are the biggest whiners with an incredible sense of entitlement. Truth is, many live in drug-infested communities on L.I. and Upstate which are only bucolic in appearance. Makes me wonder when I see a cop driving a Maserati.

  • AMH

    I’d rather not have people with guns driving hours in stressful traffic so they can tell me how to move around my own neighborhood, driving around for a full shift and then driving home again while they’re tired or after drinking. I’d much rather have them take the train.

  • AMH

    You don’t know anything about @disqus_woiqRTZJVp:disqus — why do you presume to know anything about his or her job?

  • neroden

    When cops decide to be criminals, they deserve to be treated like criminals. It’s time to start arresting these scofflaw crooks when they park illegally.

    If the cops are committing crimes, which they are, they can’t be trusted. We’d be safer with no cops, rather than a bunch of scofflaw criminal cops. Just ask Adrian Schoolcraft.

  • neroden

    When the crime-gang leader Patrick Lynch of the “Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association” (a mob organization pretending to be a union) declared that the cops were going to stop policing for a week…

    … we had the safest week in NYC in years. It turns out most of the crimes were being committed by the cops themselves. NYPD is a crime gang.

  • neroden

    You are more likely to be killed *by* a cop than you are to be killed *as* a cop.