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Civilian Complaint Review Board

AWFULLY IRONIC: NYPD Threatens Tipster After Streetsblog Story About Prior Harassment Over 311 Complaints About Illegal Parking

Courtesy, Professionalism — and Harassment

Hours after Streetsblog published a story about how cops harassed a person who ratted out the cops for illegally parking in Downtown Brooklyn, an alleged member of the NYPD went ahead and harassed the tipster anew.

“Keep fucking around,” the new harasser texted on Monday to the do-gooder, who started getting anonymous calls from what he believes are members of New York's Finest after he made dozens of complaints to 311 about officers from the 84th Precinct and Transit Bureau 30 stashing their private cars in the bike lane and on the sidewalk on Schermerhorn Street, and on nearby Smith, Jay, and Hoyt streets. The Civilian Complaint Review Board confirmed to Streetsblog that it was already investigating the harassment, and the agency told the tipster (who asked to remain anonymous for fear of exactly this) that it could add the new incident.

Evidence that the latest texter is a cop is circumstantial, but persuasive. For one thing, 311 operators do not call or text to complainants, but merely forward the complaint — and the number of the complainant — to the appropriate agency, in this case, the NYPD, whose officers already have a history of harassing this particular tipster. If someone was texting this tipster, it had to be someone who had the tipster's number — which many people in the NYPD would have access to.

Per a 311 spokesperson: "311 representatives do not follow up directly with customers for any complaint. Customers may report illegally parked cars anonymously, which does not require name or contact information. The details of the complaint are sent directly to the local precinct for response."

Plus, the phone from which the latest harassment originated had the 631 area code of Suffolk County, where more than 15 percent of uniformed police officers live. A man who answered the phone when Streetsblog called refused to provide any information or give his name.

Source: 2020 city data
Source: 2020 city data
Source: 2020 city data

Monday's unnerving text message follows a first round of retaliatory phone calls last month, on each of the three days that the tipster filed 49 311 complaints. All 49 are marked as “closed,” though he says the situation was never resolved and the cars were never moved, or just came back again the next day.

The first was on Aug. 13, when the caller identified himself as a member of the NYPD, but refused to give his name. The second was on Aug. 26 when someone identified himself as Det. Sturman called the tipster a “dickhead.” And the third was on Sept.10 when someone, who the tipster believes was a cop impersonating a 311 operator, told him he would be barred from filing more complaints. (The notion of impersonation stems from that confirmation that 311 operators don't contact people who file complaints.)

Brooklyn Council Member Steve Levin, who has long complained about personal police vehicles parked illegally with the help of a placard or NYPD logbook on the dash — was appalled at the abuse of power and harassment of citizens who are just trying to watch the watchers.

“That’s crazy. That’s not legal. The whole situation has been really, really frustrating,” Levin said in Monday's initial story. “Police officers harassing is so illegal, so far beyond retaliatory. It’s a level of misconduct, nobody should be allowing that. Whatever they’re doing there is a total breach of their duty.”

The NYPD declined to comment from this story. We will update the story if the agency responds after initial publication.

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