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Tipster Says NYPD Threatened Him for Filing Complaints About Illegal Parking

12:01 AM EDT on July 21, 2022

A line of unticketed cars parking in the bike lane in Upper Manhattan.

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They're New York's Finest ... harassers.

Cops allegedly sent obnoxious text messages to a cyclist last week after he reported illegally parked cars blocking the bike lane and crosswalks in upper Manhattan — police misconduct akin to a case that’s already under investigation by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The tipster, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of more retaliation, said that on July 12, he submitted about two dozen complaints for cars endangering him and fellow riders along Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Lenox Avenue in Harlem. Within minutes, he said, he started getting threatening phone calls and messages from what he can believes are members of New York’s Finest, calling him a “rat” and scolding him for worrying about street safety when people are being “killed and shot.”

Here's what the tipster saw.
Here's what the tipster saw.

The tipster said he first made three complaints about driver misconduct in the 23rd and 25th Precincts via the smartphone app Reported, which then get automatically submitted to 311, on his way to work between 7:11 and 7:34 a.m. Nothing came of them until he submitted 16 more, all within the 28th Precinct, starting at 8:18 p.m. until 8:51 p.m. Just minutes later, he got the first phone call from a private number.

And between 8:53 p.m and 9:02 p.m., he submitted six more complaints — a span of just about 10 minutes during which time he received eight texts from the same number:

“Riddle me this….Name rhymes with what?...Four legs and a tail, I live in your house. Cheese is my favourite. My (sic)....A RAT!” 

“Answer me there’s people being killed and shot and this what you wo (sic),” the texts continue, according to a screenshot shared with Streetsblog, which also repeat the tipster’s name twice. Only someone in law enforcement would have access to a name of a complainant from a 311 report.

He says the harassment make an already frustrating — and dangerous — problem even worse, especially because just two weeks prior in the 28th Precinct, he saw cops staging a ticket sting against cyclists for running red lights, while ignoring flagrant driver misconduct.

“It’s a mix of frustration, anger, and despair. Everyday there’s dozens of cars blocking the bike lane. I never see any cars being ticketed. I bike everyday and never see the NYPD do anything about cars blocking the bike lane,” he said.

On Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, between 116th and 145th streets, there have been 178 crashes since last July, causing 103 injuries, including to 23 cyclists and 21 pedestrians, according to Crash Mapper. Yet in the corresponding precinct, cops have only issued one ticket for blocking the bike lane so far this year, and just 78 for speeding, according to city data.

A text received by Streetsblog.
A text received by Streetsblog.

The tipster says he plans to file a complaint with the CCRB.

Streetsblog received a similar message from the person with the number associated with the harassing calls and texts, after asking if he or she was a member of the NYPD (photo right).

“Riddle me this. What needs an answer but doesn’t ask a question < ? >” 

(Who knows? A telephone? A doorbell? A cop strictly following orders without hesitation?)

The latest harassment is slightly different from one that Streetsblog reported on last October. In that case, a 311 complainant got threatening messages — including one that said “Keep fucking around" — after submitting reports about officers from the 84th Precinct and Transit Bureau 30 stashing their private cars in the bike lane. This time around, the NYPD wasn't the subject of the complaint, but NYPD officers are the ones who have to deal with 311 reports.

The threatening messages are just the latest example of cops' disregard for street safety issues like illegal parking and placard abuse, and excusing their lack of action towards the problem because of more pressing citywide concerns like shootings and crime — taking a page out of Mayor Adams' own playbook, who on the campaign trail last year called placard abuse a "New Paltz" problem.

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

The tipster says cops should be able to handle both — and more.

"If time and resources is going to running red light, (the cops) can also take care of cars parked in the bike lane. I know the issues they have, but that doesn't mean just ignore the rest," he said. 

The Department of Investigation announced last December that it was launching an inquiry into the NYPD's response to driver misconduct complaints, after reporting by Streetsblog, which also prompted journalist Alex Pareene reported in The Atlantic that he stopped including his contact information on 311 complaints because of it.

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment on the latest allegations of misconduct.

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