City Hall Condemns Death Threats to 311 User Who Filed Illegal Parking Complaint to NYPD
The Adams administration denounced the death threats a Brooklyn man received after filing a 311 complaint to the NYPD last week, but City Hall did not say whether the police department’s handling of 311 should be reformed.
“This incident is extremely disturbing, and we condemn any form of harassment in the strongest possible terms,” a City Hall spokesperson said late Wednesday, following a Streetsblog story about threatening phone calls the man received after reporting an illegally parked truck to 311 and throwing snow on its hood. The anonymous caller somehow knew the man’s name and phone number. Both pieces of information were part of the 311 report.
“We will review the results of the DOI investigation as soon as it is released,” the spokesperson added, referring to the city Department of Investigation’s inquiry into harassment that 311 users have faced after filing complaints to the NYPD.
The city probe was sparked by a Streetsblog report that documented the pattern of harassment. The threats received last week by Park Slope resident Tony Melone are the most extreme examples documented so far.
Melone on Thursday said he appreciated City Hall’s statement, but wished Adams would take more forceful, proactive steps to improve the NYPD’s handling of 311 and illegal parking.
“I am disappointed,” he said. “They could take action immediately on the fact that the NYPD really isn’t doing any parking enforcement in my part of Brooklyn and, I think, in other areas. And the drivers can basically do whatever they want.”
Adams’s office did not answer questions about whether any city officials shared Melone’s contact information with anyone after he filed his report, and whether the mayor would seek broader reforms of the NYPD’s handling of 311. The NYPD has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the episode.
Assembly Member Robert Carroll, who represents Park Slope, said he was appalled by the episode and had voiced his dismay to Frantz Souffrant, the commanding officer of the local 78th police precinct.
“The kind of language that this person used to threaten Mr. Melone is violent and disgusting,” Carroll said. “If somebody in city government, be it at the NYPD, or 311, or somewhere else, was able to release Mr. Melone’s personal information, they deserve serious reprimand.”
City Council Member Shahana Hanif, who also represents Park Slope, expressed similar concern.
“The harassment Tony faced is deeply distributing, “ she said in a statement. “Tony did the right thing when he called 311 and I hope that this harassment doesn’t dissuade anyone from reporting issues to our City agencies.”
Melone has filed a dozen 311 complaints about the truck over the past year, all for parking illegally around Ninth Street and Eighth Avenue. Last Monday, after seeing an old woman forced to struggle over a snow bank to the sidewalk because the truck was blocking a bus stop, he filed the latest complaint and went out to shovel a new path for bus riders — throwing snow onto the truck in the process.
Later, Melone watched from nearby as two police officers, sent to respond to his 311 complaint, inspected the truck and spoke to the truck’s owner. The officers left, the motorist drove away and the threatening calls soon began.
All of the calls came from a blocked phone number, or numbers. In them, the male caller, or callers, threatened to kill Melone, to “fuck you and your wife,” and to “get” Melone’s kids, according to recordings of the calls that Melone shared with Streetsblog.
The truck’s owner, in an interview, said he had not made the threatening calls and did not know who did. But he expressed little sympathy for Melone, whose shoveling, he said, had cracked his windshield.
“He deserves everything he gets. I think death threats is a bit extreme. But if he gets an ass-whooping, he gets an ass-whooping,” said the man, who gave his name only as Don. “I did nothing to offend him, nothing to harm him, nothing of the sort. Why would you sit down and do that to my vehicle?”
Don said he planned to file a police report about the broken windshield.