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MARCH (PARKING) MADNESS: Who Should Move to the Final Four — The 41st or the 48th?

Welcome to the second round of our annual March (Parking) Madness contest! All this week, we rolled out our initial Borough Finals, having pared down the Shameful 16 down to the Hateful Eight. So far this week, the 110th Precinct bested last year's champions, the 114th Precinct, in our Queens contest, and the 84th Precinct won the Brooklyn final. But polls remain open in our Manhattan final until Friday at noon. And for a reminder on why we do this contest, click here.

This year's Bronx finals pits two Boogie Down contestants with similar geography: Both the 41st Precinct of Hunts Point (the Bruckner Expressway) and the 48th (the Cross Bronx Expressway) sit on major highways. And both precincts treat their neighbors with abject disrespect (though only one has cops that are perhaps engaging in fraud!).

We believe there is one favorite to advance, but you know what they say: on any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team. So that's why you have to play the games:

The 41st (Hunts Point)

When Streetsblog returned to the Hunts Point precinct this week, lo and behold, the parking situation had improved! We don't know if that's because it was a different time of day and thus a different shift (late morning as opposed to mid-afternoon) or because someone at 1 Police Plaza or inside the stationhouse told cops in no uncertain terms that it was under scrutiny and had to clean up its act. But the first time we visited, the plaza in front of the building at 1035 Longwood Ave. was choked with officers' personal vehicles, allowing us to run the plates and expose the terrible speeding records attached to the cars — conditions that no doubt played a role in the 41st's triumph over the 44th (a sea of cars that we dubbed "The Hell Under the El") in the first round.

On Monday, when we returned, not a single personal car was parked on the plaza (although some cruisers were). Hmm.

Of course, we still found plenty of the usual parking no-nos that typify the streets around any precincthouse: combat parking on the sidewalks, blocked fire hydrants and bus stops, double parking, and illegal parking on pedestrian infrastucture (in this case, a neckdown). But things appeared less chaotic in the borough final bout. Perhaps Captain Anthony Mascia gave his troops a talking to (or was himself talked to?)?

The NYPD's constant illegal parking has led to lots of placard abuse by the workers from other city agencies. (When the cops, who supposedly enforce the law, habitually break it, everyone else feels emboldened to do so, too.) So, for example, we saw several MTA workers using their theft vests to park illegally:

Meanwhile, just a couple of blocks up the street from the stationhouse, there was a small placard scandal! Alongside the Longwood Preparatory Academy, a public high school, a line of 11 parked personal cars sported the brand-new NYC paper placards with bar codes — just as the NYPD's Transportation Bureau Chief Kim Royster promised late last year (and the city failed to deliver in Downtown Brooklyn). The placards indicated that the cars belonged to educators at the high school and another school. Two of the cars blocked a hydrant — which is illegal, even with a placard. What if the school caught on fire?

And when we ran the plates, every single one of the placarded cars had violations — a total 158 violations among them, including 53 school-zone speed camera tickets. Among these cars were:

    • One car that had 23 school-zone speed camera tickets since 2019, which subjects the vehicle owner to a city safe-driving class under the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program.
    • Another car had eight school-zone speed camera tickets since Feb. 21 of this year!
    • Another car had six school-zone speed camera tickets and a failure to stop at a red light.

Altogether, the amount of disrespect for the neighborhood — not to mention the schools — was shocking. Plus, what a huge embarrassment for the Department of Education and Chief Royster! We asked the DOE for comment about these educator scofflaws and spokesman Nathaniel Styer did not respond.

But do other agencies' lawbreakers count toward the 41st's score in our tournament (it's their house, after all)? We report; you decide.

The 48th (Central Bronx)

As we detailed in our first-round match-up, the 48th Precinct, at 350 Cross Bronx Expressway, bristles with bad attitude. Why? Because, left alone in a desolate neighborhood beside one of the nation's ugliest elevated highways, it can do as it pleases, so it does. It was heavily favored to win its first-round match over the 50th in the northwest Bronx (but only squeaked by!)

As we noted in our first round, the cops of the 48th have commandeered the sidewalks of the surrounding streets for combat parking of their personal cars. (It's not only the officers of the 48th: The campus at 450-460 Cross Bronx Expressway also hosts the FDNY’s Engine 46 Ladder 27.)

We did note, however, that the 48th's commander, Deputy Inspector Joseph Tompkins, has let the problem worsen over time. As recently as October 2019, according to archival photos, the combat parking for personal cars did not extend much to the sidewalk abutting Bathgate Avenue — where the 48th has one of its several parking lots under the highway; mostly official vehicles were parked on it then. Well, now it does! Plus, the precinct has striped the sidewalk for parking — which is controlled by the Department of Transportation, not the NYPD — even though the DOT's "No Parking" signs remain.

Another issue present at the campus is possible examples of registration fraud, which can earn the perpetrator serious criminal penalties and which cheats the state out of revenue. Of course, any of the cars in the slideshow below could have been seized in an investigation, but we didn't notice the telltale bar-code indicating that the car has been entered into evidence. So why were cars with out-of-state plates from Tennessee, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Georgia sitting (some of them combat parked on sidewalks) in police spots next to the station house on a Monday morning in March?

When we ran the plates on these out-of-state cars:

    • The Georgia car had a parking ticket from the Bronx last year, suggesting that its owner lives here.
    • The Keystone car had parking tickets and a speeding ticket from the Bronx and Manhattan, suggesting that its owner also lives here.
    • The Volunteer state car had three parking tickets from the Bronx and upper Manhattan, also suggesting that its owner lives here.
    • The Connecticut car had two parking tickets from 2019, again suggesting its owner lives here.
    • The Lone Star car didn't have any tickets (yet).

We sent these photos to the NYPD for an explanation and asked whether DCPI is aware of registration fraud in the ranks, whether the NYPD regularly looks to root it out, and what would happen to an officer in such an instance. NYPD spokesperson Lt. Jessica McRorie said, "We were able to determine that one of the vehicles was vouchered in connection with a homicide and another is a rental vehicle that came with the out of state plates. We have forwarded information on the other three to the commanding officer for review."

Of course, we documented examples of garden-variety disrespect from the cops of the 48th this week: for example, this junked car (below), likely from a crash investigation, left out to aggravate the neighbors:

A junked car from a crash investigation, parked next to the 48th Precinct for all to see.
A junked car, likely from a crash investigation, parked next to the 48th Precinct for all to see.
A junked car from a crash investigation, parked next to the 48th Precinct for all to see.

And, of course, other cars left in NYPD parking spaces had multiple school-zone speed camera and red-light violations that we find for cars parked in cop spaces next to stationhouses, including a cop with four speeding tickets (and a missing plate!) and another with three speeding tickets and two red-light tickets.

But which of these two loathsome precincts is the worse offender? Vote now! Polls will remain open until Saturday at noon.

The contest so far.
The contest so far.
The contest so far.

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