SIDEBAR: The NYPD Is A Terrible Vision Zero Partner

cops are bad partners sidebar montage

Here’s hoping that reading this list is not above her pay grade.

Earlier this week, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the NYPD remained a Vision Zero partner of her agency, despite widespread police misconduct in public space during, but also before, the citywide protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Trottenberg declined to follow the lead of other municipalities and distance her agency from the police force.

“Let’s put the protest aside because it’s above my pay grade. I want to point to the 14th Street [Busway]. Part of the reason we had such an incredible success is because of our partnership with the NYPD,” said Trottenberg. “And I’m hoping they’ll be great partners, too, as we roll out five new busways and new bus lanes.”

In fact, the NYPD has repeatedly shown a lack of respect for Trottenberg’s agency and its mission of safe, equitable administration of public space. So to refresh Trottenberg’s memory, Streetsblog compiled a list of cops behaving badly — attacking cyclists, covering up police-involved crashes, disproportionately ticketing black and Latino jaywalkers, illegally doxxing the mayor’s daughter — and many are incidents before the protests

Great partners? We beg to differ.

Since the death of George Floyd

  • Officers used their SUV squad car as a weapon, slamming into a group of protesters and knocking some down to the ground in Prospect Heights, Streetsblog reported. 
  • An NYPD officer used his bike as a battering ram against a crowd of protesters, caught on camera by a Twitter user.
  • During the first few days of protests, an NYPD officer violently shoved a girl to the ground after calling her a “stupid fucking bitch,” which led to a seizure and criminal charges against the officer.  
  • An NYPD officer removed a black protester’s mask and pepper sprayed him while peacefully protesting, as seen on Twitter
  • A “3 Percenter” sticker was spotted on a parked car in an NYPD-only parking lot outside the 78th Precinct in Park Slope. The “3 Percenters” are a far-right, anti-government, pro-gun paramilitary group.
  • Police beat up a cyclist, throwing him to the ground for riding too slowly during a Back Lives Matter protest on Saturday night, as Streetsblog reported. 
  • The NYPD pepper sprayed black lawmakers State Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assembly Member Diana Richardson while protesting peacefully at Barclays Center.
  • Cops aggressively seized protesters’ and reporters’ bikes during a Black Lives Matter protest last Wednesday, as reported in Streetsblog.
  • The Sergeants Benevolent Association doxxed Mayor de Blasio’s daughter Chiara, tweeting out a photo of her full arrest record after she was arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest.
  • Cops arrested a food delivery man for allegedly breaking curfew when he was working, as reported in The Post.
  • And, of course, many precincts have stolen public space in front of their station houses, sending a message of disrespect to their communities.
  • Police are always turning bike and bus lanes into their own private parking lots, as Placard Abuse has frequently documented. One example:

Before the protests (a partial list)

  • Jan. 2014: Cops beat up an 84-year-old man for jaywalking.
  • Aug. 2014: Cops refused to prosecute cyclist Dulcie Canton’s hit and run driver — even though the incident was caught on camera.
  • June 2016: Even after pedestrian Bernadette Karna’s hit-and-run driver was caught on camera, the NYPD refused to file charges.
  • June 2018: The NYPD refuses to help the City Council track placard abuse.
  • July 2018: The Police Benevolent Association is the only major group against speed camera extension and expansion, proving they are against a life-saving measure.
  • Aug. 2018: The NYPD makes up its own laws about bike lanes, as one officer told a cyclist he’s unable to ticket a mail truck because “it’s in the service of performing a duty,” Gothamist reported. 
  • Oct. 2018: The NYPD made the Brooklyn Bridge bike path even more dangerous for cyclists — by installing big cement barricades — a design choice that did not have DOT approval.
  • April 2019: A Streetsblog investigation reveals that cops are twice as likely to have multiple moving violations on their personal driving records than the general public.
  • April 2019: When New Yorkers call 311 to report about an illegally parked car, the NYPD routinely closes the case  — without visiting the site, Streetsblog observed last year. 
  • July 2019:  Mayor de Blasio announced he had ordered the NYPD to crackdown on reckless drivers and cars blocking bike lanes — when the NYPD are routinely the ones parked in bike lanes.
  • July 2019: An officer used his NYPD SUV squad car as a battering ram to stop a Citi Bike rider who allegedly ran two red lights. The use of deadly force was justified by the NYPD, with the agency saying it “vigorously support[s] Vision Zero.” 
  • Aug. 2019: Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins emailed members a racist video that claimed President Obama “succeeded in forever vilifying its nation’s police while simultaneously granting blacks crime as their new entitlement,” reported The Post. The same union boss used a sexist slur on Twitter to describe Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city health commissioner, after she rejected a plea to give the NYPD 500,000 masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Aug. 2019: A cop told a cyclist they should “go back” to where they came from after the bike rider confronted the cop for parking in a bike lane.
  • Oct. 2019: Streetsblog reports that the NYPD blamed an e-bike rider for his death, only to issue an amended report months later.
  • Nov. 2019: Officers issued a ticket to an unresponsive cyclist after he was doored by a van driver, Gothamist reported. Dooring is illegal.
  • Dec. 2019:  A drunken off-duty cop plowed his white 2019 Nissan GT-R into a vehicle, killing one passenger. 
  • Jan. 2020: Officers often flout illegal parking — even after the city vowed to crackdown on placard abuse this year, Streetsblog found.
  • Jan. 2020: A Brooklyn council member vows to get cops from illegally parking in front of their Schermerhorn Street command post. They’re still there.
  • Feb. 2020: A quiet block in the Bronx is the home for five illegally parked cars with police placards —  and drivers are serial law-breakers, as Streetsblog reported. 
  • March 2020: The NYPD covered up a motorcycle crash that killed two riders after an unmarked police car chase, prompting the motorcycle to plow into a van, as reported by the Daily News. 
  • May 2020: The NYPD disproportionately ticketed and arrested people of color for flouting social distancing, with 79 percent of summonses and 74 percent of arrests handed down in black and Latino majority precincts. Meanwhile, the majority of 311 calls for New Yorkers violating social distancing were in white neighborhoods, Streetsblog reported.   
  • April 2020: The NYPD tells the City Council that it opposes open-streets during the coronavirus.
  • May 2020: The NYPD issued 99 percent of jaywalking tickets to Hispanic or black New Yorkers between Jan. 1 and March 31, Streetsblog reported. Only one white person got a ticket out of 79 tickets issued.

Is this really an agency that DOT should be working with?

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Street safety professionals, elected officials, and advocates from cities around the world gathered in New York today for the Vision Zero for Cities Symposium, a conference organized by Transportation Alternatives to examine New York’s street safety approach and share best practices for eliminating traffic fatalities. The morning panels featured Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, TLC Commissioner […]