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MARCH (PARKING) MADNESS 2022: Two Queens Precincts That Could Go All the Way

An epic battle for the soul of Queens.

This is the latest first-round battle in our annual contest. Polls are still open on Tuesday's battle, pitting two Brooklyn precincts. Vote here.

Click to expand and then print it out and complete!
Click to expand and then print it out and complete!
Click to expand and then print it out and complete!

And just like cops in this contest, we're breaking all the rules. Even though Streetsblog bylaws forbid previous years' losers from returning, we've invited the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst to take another shot this year, given the surprise we felt after readers denied Deputy Inspector Jonathan Cermeli's troops a much-deserved victory in the borough finals last year, losing to the 114th Precinct in Astoria, which went on to win the whole shooting match.

When you read the write-up below, you'll know why we kept in this stationhouse.

Remember to vote below.

The 110th Precinct (Elmhurst)

Nothing you have ever seen on any street in New York City, with the possible exception of the roadways in Mill Basin on Fourth of July, can prepare you for the chaos and lawlessness of the blocks of 43rd Avenue near the 110th Precinct stationhouse in Elmhurst, Queens.

As we noted last year, the cops at this command park in such disarray it appears that the spoiled child of an angry God threw a tantrum while playing with toy police cars and just hurled them all over the street before storming out.

On 43rd Avenue, police squad cars and police officers' personal cars are pulled front ways into residents' driveways, blocking both the sidewalks and the owners' own homes.

It's not really a "Fuck you" to the mostly Latino neighborhood — because even a "Fuck you" requires the offender to acknowledge the humanity of the victim. Looking at the cars here, it's hard to imagine that police even recognize that they have neighbors to whom they have sworn to protect and serve. Here's a sideshow of what we're talking about:

And the side streets around this stationhouse are also completely copped over. One block from the command post, on 95th Street, cops have used combat parking and regular parallel parking to steal every spot from their neighbors, as well as block the sidewalk so that pedestrians are forced into the narrow street, putting them at risk.

Here's what that area looks like:

How dangerous is the precinct block (43rd Avenue between Junction Boulevard and 94th Street)? Since 2014, there have been 111 reported crashes, injuring two cyclists, one pedestrian and four motorists. The neighboring block of 43rd Avenue between Junction Boulevard and 99th Street had 43 reported crashes over the same time period. And the block of 43rd Avenue to the west of the stationhouse had just 36 reported crashes over the same time period.

At the western end of the precinct block, Cermeli's officers give the neighborhood a final one-finger salute, creating a parking area out of ... well, out of nothing:

cop car parking area

But can this retrograde precinct triumph in the first round? It certainly faces decent competition...

The 112th Precinct (Forest Hills)

We've had our eye on the cops at the 112th Precinct since 2018, when one of our readers sent in a photo of a 112th officer using her squad car to block (instead of defend!) the Queens Boulevard bike lane. But closer to the Austin Street stationhouse, cops are just as disrespectful of their neighbors on foot, on two wheels, in wheelchairs, or even in cars.

The lead photo is a classic: A police vehicle parked on a sidewalk right in front of the stationhouse — almost posed there as if knowing we were starting our contest:

112th overview 1

In fairness, the intersection of Austin Street and Yellowstone Boulevard — one block from Queens Boulevard — is probably not the best place for a city office building with hundreds of employees, all of whom seem to think that driving is a birthright.

Also, one top official in the precinct thinks it's funny to drive his or her Mercedes with a defaced plate:

This is literally in front of the stationhouse.
This is literally in front of the stationhouse.
This is literally in front of the stationhouse.

Cops at the 112th don't park all over the place — but mostly because they don't have to; they've literally stolen all the legal parking for blocks.

On Yellowstone east of the stationhouse, the precinct parks its big command trucks illegally in a cross-hatched no-parking zone:

trucks in cross-hatched area

To the west of the stationhouse, cops leave their personal cars in no-standing and police-only parking zones. On a pedestrian walkway next to Russell Sage High School, cops have taken all the spaces for combat parking (the teachers must love that). We also saw cops blocking crosswalks.

But the most amazing thing is just how much of Austin Street the cops have swiped for "NYPD-only" parking. Usually, the DOT-allocated zone near a precinct comprises a few hundred feet. But on Austin Street — a busy commercial strip where business owners are always complaining of congestion from double-parked cars — cops have seized roughly 1,000 feet of curbside space as "Police Department"-only parking. (We took a picture, but it's difficult to show just how much parking this is. But here goes):

Cops take up all the spaces on the right of this photo.
Cops take up all the spaces on the right of this photo ... as far as the eye (or our iPhone camera) can see.
Cops take up all the spaces on the right of this photo.

One final word about the 112th. As our reporter rolled up to the stationhouse on his bike and prepared to lock to a street sign in front of the building, a rookie cop came over and asked, "Are you going to park there?"

Our well-trained reporter answered by not answering. "Is there a problem, officer?"

The officer explained that "a sergeant might come out" and ask the rookie "to do something."

The reporter explained that it is legal to park on city parking signs, and the rookie just shrugged. "But the sergeant might ask me to do something," he repeated.

The reporter reminded the rookie that it's important to push back when high officials ask you to "do something" about someone acting lawfully. But the rookie walked away when the reporter agreed to just park somewhere else, lest a sergeant wrongfully ask a rookie cop to "do something" equally wrong.

So which precinct deserves to go to the next round? Remember to vote before Friday at noon. And tell your friends!

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