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Staten Island Cop on Yellow Ribbon Vigilantism: ‘Cameras Are Effective … Oh, And Joe Borelli Speeds!’

5:20 PM EST on March 2, 2020

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

After publication of not one, but two stories about Yellow Ribbon vigilantism in Staten Island,  our mini Twitter tiff with Council Member Joe Borelli, and our musical parody of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" — we received an email from a police officer on the Rock who has long functioned as a behind-the-scenes source for us (call him or her Deep Placard). Here's his or her insightful take on the vigilantes, the council member, cops — and the mayor who inspires all their wrath.

Photo illustration
Photo illustration
Photo illustration

I recently read your story about speed cameras. It is absolutely true. As a cop, I can tell you that these cameras are effective. I used to do enforcement in a spot, then they put up a camera — and people do slow down for the camera, even if they didn't slow down for me.

When I would stop drivers, I'd get handed a ton of courtesy cards. Now [with cameras], everyone is treated fairly. After they get caught by the camera, I smile and wave as they pass. I now only stop the people that are excessively over the limit. The same goes for me, too. If I drive like a dick, the camera will get me. It doesn’t care about my job title. Meanwhile, I personally can drive past a cop car while off duty with no seatbelt, running a red light, while speeding, and talking on my phone and I’ll get away with it. The cop might not be happy about it, but he/she will walk away. Same goes for most people with courtesy cards. And that’s not fair.

On Staten Island nearly half the driving population that are being stopped by police have some type of courtesy card. I’ve worked and I live out there. So it’s quite difficult for police to do their job because they have to let so many people go.

And the NYPD has created a culture of shaming cops that don’t follow suit. Not only that, but writing summonses is frowned upon because “writing” means you’re helping de Blasio.

In addition, members of service are part of the problem. With these cameras there is now no excuse. That’s why there is so much opposition, especially on the South Shore. The camera doesn’t care if it’s a cop, doctor, cops mechanic, firefighter, nurse, sanitation, captains side piece, etc. You get a ticket without any prejudice. That is what’s needed all over the city.

And Mr. Borelli has five camera-issued tickets for speeding, but I bet he has none issued by police. That’s because members of service love him. Personally, I do like him. I agree with a significant portion of what he’s about. But if he had a ticket for every time he was stopped, it would be more than five! That’s because his summonses are warned and admonished by police out here. He also distributes courtesy cards with his name so that people he knows can get away with traffic infractions. [Borelli declined to comment to Streetsblog about this allegation.]

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