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CASE CLOSED: Another Look at How the NYPD Lies to Protect Placard Corrupted Cops

3:26 PM EDT on May 2, 2022

This is the face of the NYPD today. Or make that the deface.

How Streetsblog covered the story.
How Streetsblog covered the NYPD's 311 failure.
How Streetsblog covered the failure of the NYPD to follow up on 311 complaints. Click to read.Graphic: Martin Schapiro

The NYPD lied on Monday to cover up the illegal actions of a Housing division cop — the latest of a growing number of incidents involving placard abusing officers and the epidemic of illegally defaced license plates.

On Monday morning, a Streetsblog reporter spotted a legally parked, yet nonetheless placarded, police officers' car, parked on 17th Street in Brooklyn. The car had defaced plates on both the front and the back, but a service request to 311 reporting the defaced plates was closed within 13 minutes with the message, "The Police Department responded to the complaint and took action to fix the condition."

This was, in fact, a lie: No NYPD officer physically responded to the complaint (our reporter was watching), nor did anyone slap a ticket on the car to "fix" the condition:

No ticket was on the car, even though the NYPD said it addressed the illegal plate defacement.
No ticket was on the car, even though the NYPD said it addressed the illegal plate defacement.
No ticket was on the car, even though the NYPD said it addressed the illegal plate defacement.

It is unclear why the NYPD issued the false report via 311; the agency's spokespeople did not respond to questions about this incident. NYPD officers who file a false report are subject to discipline and a misdemeanor charge, though it is unclear from the 311 log which officer would be held accountable.

[Update: After initial publication of this story, an NYPD spokesperson, who did not provide a name, said, "The incident is under internal review," but did not answer any of our other questions.]

In any event, it is also unclear why the NYPD would be seeking to protect this plate-defacing officer, whose plate is missing its last digit. That illegal defacement which may fool some of the speed cameras some of the times, but definitely does not fool all of them, nor does it trick ticket-writing agents all of the time.

For example, the Housing bureau cop who owns this car has a habit of leaving his NYPD placard on the dashboard, even when he is legally parked. As a result, ticket agents can read his full plate number — KGH7269 — at a glance. And any member of the public can see this officer's driving record, which shows four camera-issued speeding tickets and one camera-issued red-light ticket since December 2020, plus three tickets for a defaced plate. All of those tickets have been paid, according to a city database, meaning that this car is in no danger of being towed for its tickets or the recklessness of its pilot.

It's not the first time, of course, that the NYPD has lied about its handling of 311 complaints related to its officers as well as reckless driving or parking by members of the public. As Streetsblog reported last year, the NYPD now closes thousands of 311 service requests about driver misconduct each year in under five minutes, up from only five complaints that were closed so quickly in 2010.

Callers to 311 are frequently harassed by members of the NYPD, as Streetsblog has documented several times. The Department of Investigation last year promised to investigate.

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