MARCH (PARKING) MADNESS 2022: The 24th vs. the 41st in the Western Region Final
3:22 PM EDT on March 30, 2022
Here's the second Final Four matchup in our annual March (Parking) Madness tournament, where NYPD precincts compete to see which is the most disrespectful of its neighbors thanks to illegal parking, garbage and general lack of concern for anyone other than police officers’ convenience. There's still time to vote in our other regional final, pitting the 110th Precinct in Queens vs. the Brooklyn's 84th Precinct. Polls will remain open until Friday at noon in both contests. For a reminder of why we do this contest, click here.
To get from the Sour 16 to the Final Four, these contestants shot the moon with their combat parking, placard abuse, not to mention the chronic speeding and other violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Law that we saw when we ran the plates of their officers' personal vehicles.
Today our west regional pits Bronx champions, the 41st Precinct, vs. the Manhattan champs at the 24th Precinct:
24th Precinct (Upper West Side)
The officers at this stationhouse on W. 100th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues made it to the Final Four with an easy 59-percent-to-41-percent win over the 33rd in Washington Heights.
But it wasn't clear — until our visit this week — whether Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi's officers would show up to play in the Final Four. But they did. Oh, but they did.
Approaching the stationhouse from the west, the first thing we encountered was a BMW blocking a hydrant that has accumulated 69 violations, including 21 school-zone speed camera, tickets in less than 12 months (and owes $7,870 in tickets) — more than enough to require its owner to take a safety course under the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Act (we have reached out to the DOT to see if the cop has been warned via letter). Parking in front of hydrants, Streetsblog has discovered during our tournaments, is a favorite cop thing to do, especially when the cops share a campus, as the 24th does, with a firehouse! It's like some kind of inter-service passive aggression.
So it was no surprise when, crossing Amsterdam, when we saw two cops' cars, one from Rockland and one from Westchester (judging by their license-plate holders), blocking another hydrant, this one on the northeast corner of Amsterdam and 100th. Yet another cop's car blocked yet another hydrant right next to it. Firehouses must need many hydrants ... especially those serving large NYCHA developments, such as the Frederick Douglass Houses, which span Amsterdam and Columbus avenues starting at 100th Street. So the cops of the 24th definitely disrespect the safety of their neighbors.
"Blocking" is the watchword of the 24th, because, as we found on all our visits, the officers love to block each other and their neighbors by double-parking every which way in front of the angled parking on both sides of the street. How anyone drives off the block of the stationhouse we don't know. Who do you call when you want to exit? Just enter the stationhouse and holler? Or does the cop stationed out front have the keys for valet parking? Maybe there's a wholesale scramble at the change of shift?
It appears, however, that Streetsblog got action after our last visit! We did not see cops' personal cars illegally parked on the sidewalk at the 24th (hanging over the sidewalk, a bit, yes) — only a couple of cars on the sidewalk in front of the firehouse's part of the installation, which we attributed (perhaps erroneously?) to the Bravest.
What we did see parked among officers' personal cars on 100th street was an array of out-of-state license plates, suggesting possible registration fraud (a serious crime!) on the part of the owners. Indeed, these cars, from New Jersey, Florida, Virginia, and Maryland almost all had local tickets dating back years, suggesting that their owners were driving them in New York often. This seems to be a pattern with NYPD: We spotted cars with out-of-state plates parked in cops' spaces around stationhouses more than a few times during our tournament. Paging Commissioner Sewell! We saw, among others (especially from New Jersey):
- A New Jersey car with seven tickets dating back three years.
- Another Jersey car with a law enforcement plate and a 2019 ticket.
- A Virginia car with a police sticker with a couple of tickets from 2019.
- A Connecticut car with three tickets in the last two years.
- A Florida car with 13 violations since 2016, including two failures to stop at red lights an a school-zone speeding ticket.
- A Maryland car with a 2020 speeding ticket from The Bronx.
Of course, residents of all these different states could have found parking on 100th Street next to the station house amid the scrum of cops' cars on a Tuesday morning in March.
Other cars (such as the placarded Audi below) had the ugly driving records that we have come to expect from cops or had plates that were defaced or obscured by shiny plastic covers (to defeat tolls or speed- and red-light cameras). Now, some of these cars belong to the personnel of other uniformed departments (indeed, one of the cars with an obscured plate had a Fire Department sticker and another an Administration for Children's Services Police uniform — the latter is well known on social media).
But that doesn't really make the illegality any better from a citizen's point of view. You are "The Law" at your house, 24th! Plus, all the illegal parking clearly is emboldening private citizen to follow the lead of the men and women in uniform — that's how the "broken windows" theory of crime and decay works, as Mayor Adams has been saying. So why not start at the NYPD's own houses?
So, as you see, the 24th brought its "A" game to this round.
41st Precinct (Hunts Point)
Gotta hand it to the "Foul 41st": It's got some die-hard
fans detractors. We thought we saw glimmers of contrition on its part in the last bout, when we showed up to discover its plaza cleared of cops' personal cars, after it had been covered with them on our first visit. ('Twas not always thus: Archival photos in the slideshow below appear to show that the practice happened much less before 2014, accelerating after 2016.)
But the "fans" held no quarter; they catapulted the 41st from low-seed status to contender! It slammed the 500-pound gorilla, the "Filthy 48th," 72 percent to 28 percent in the second-round match.
When Streetsblog visited on Tuesday, the main part of the plaza was still clear (although some personal cars had crept back into those parked in front of the building). But the 41st had developed a paranoid attitude: It had stationed a cop in a vehicle in its parking lot, who squawked the siren several times at us and eventually came after us on foot! (We ignored him.) Why that was a priority given the violence plaguing the precinct, we don't know.
We saw many of the same issues with parking around the 41st that we saw on our first two trips: cars on the sidewalk in front of the stationhouse, cops cars with lots of tickets, cars triple parking around the corner on Southern Boulevard, cars (some with apparent city worker identification) illegally parked on pedestrian infrastructure such as neckdowns.
But we feel for the 41st. It has a major problem with cars sporting fake paper plates, and it seems overwhelmed by them — as if it was playing this game with a lame leg. We know it's the job of the precinct to crack down on such lawbreaking (paper plates have been a minor NYPD preoccupation in recent months) and that the NYPD is the best-staffed police force in the country. But where to start? Here's a little help from Streetsblog, a gallery of 12 possibly fake paper plates seen around Longwood Avenue or Bruckner or Southern boulevards within blocks of the 41st during about an hour on Tuesday:
But the hapless fan favorite will likely garner some votes in this round, though it really doesn't belong in the finals.
Now it's time for you: Which do you feel is the worse precinct? Vote now (polls will remain open until Friday at noon):
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