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Department of Sanitation

City Employee Actually Faces Punishment For (Pretty Blatant) Placard Abuse

12:01 AM EST on December 13, 2019

It was this kind of thing.

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One down, thousands to go.

A city employee who stole a placard from his workplace and used it in his own personal vehicle was sanctioned by the city's Conflict of Interest Board, in a placard abuse case so egregious it would have been a scandal to ignore it.

In a decision handed down by the COIB on Thursday, Department of Sanitation employee Carlos Rodriguez admitted that he stole a DSNY police placard and used it in his own personal car in November, 2017. According to the case disposition published on Thursday, Rodriguez admitted to stealing the placard in order to park his car illegally on a street near his house.

Rodriguez was eventually suspended by DSNY for three days, a punishment valued at $928. The COIB signed off on the punishment, stating that the ethics board found it comparable to other instances of employees misusing placards.

Of course, Rodriguez is just the tip of the placard iceberg. There are over 140,000 city-issued placards sitting on the dashboards of police, firefighters and other city employees' cars, and their casual misuse has inspired an entire Twitter account devoted entirely to documenting the illegal parking that the placards inspire. A much-ballyhooed plan by Mayor de Blasio to deal with placard abuse is still in its infancy, with the public still waiting for the debut of the Department of Transportation's 10-person team devoted to cracking down on misusing placard parking privileges in Downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.

In one positive development, Streetsblog reported exclusively on Thursday that cops who blow through the city's red light and speed cameras are putting their own placards at risk (in addition to the lives of New Yorkers). Under a new city policy, every precinct's Integrity Control Officer will have to factor in tickets from the cameras, in addition to moving violations handed out by humans, when reviewing an officer's driving record before their placard can be renewed. If the officer has too many points and moving violations, bye bye placard privileges.

It's a big deal because officers have been able to evade punishment because cops rarely write tickets against other cops. But cameras don't play favorites.

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