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Brooklyn Civic Panel Can’t Agree How to Solve NYPD Sidewalk Parking

Move the illegal sidewalk parking or denounce it altogether?

File photo|

At the NYPD’s 88th Precinct on Classon Avenue.

Cops park their personal vehicles and squad cars on the sidewalk outside precinct station houses — and one Brooklyn community board can't figure out what to do or say about it.

At its monthly meeting last Thursday, Community Board 2’s Transportation and Public Safety Committee took up the scofflaw behavior of New York’s Finest at the 88th Precinct in Clinton Hill, yet couldn't even find a way to decisively condemn the officers who dump their vehicles in hand-painted spots on the Classon Avenue sidewalk.

Cop cars leave little room outside the 88th Precinct on Classon Avenue. Photo: Daniel Bersohn

The angle-parked vehicles on the foot path between Lafayette and Dekalb avenues are a particularly egregious blockade due to a tree planted in the middle of the path and cobblestones around it making it difficult for people in wheelchairs or pushing a stroller to pass through. 

At the April 11 meeting, a resident who had had enough of the flagrant discourtesy came up with three proposals to free up the paths without removing parking, including moving the cars to a nearby block and installing wheel stops on the sidewalk to keep the police vehicles from intruding too far.

“My whole idea here was, don’t create any losers,” said local Daniel Bersohn. 

The civic group took up for a vote the option to move the 15 combat parking spots on Classon to a stretch of the same street north of Dekalb Avenue, where there is more space on the path and no further obstacles like a tree or cobblestones, but the motion failed to win a majority.

Members of the committee said they should never endorse illegal parking. 

“As a community board, I do not think we should just say that that is acceptable. Their cars, if they don’t fit where they’re allowed to fit, then tough shit,” said committee member (and Streetsblog contributing writer) Nicole Murray. 

It's not the first time that cops from the 88th Precinct have offended local sensibilities by stealing public space around their stationhouse. They have repeatedly seized an adjacent playground to park their cars, and years ago lobbyied the DOT to shift the bike lane on Dekalb Avenue to make room for angled parking.

And the precinct was featured prominently in Streetsblog's March (Parking) Madness contest in 2021.

Transportation Committee Vice Chair Esther Blount came out against removing NYPD cars, citing a public housing complex across the street. Blount didn't specify why the NYCHA facility required dedicated police car storage. It is unclear if she was saying that housing project residents are more likely to commit crimes.

“You know Lafayette Gardens is right there, so I think that keeping the police cars somewhere is very important,” she said.

A pedestrian advocate suggested the board ask cops to parallel park like everyone else, something that worked after a Manhattan community board requested it a few years ago.

“You would lose six spots, so the only thing you have to do is give them an extended six spots in agency parking, and they don’t lose anything, which is the discussion we had with our precinct, and it worked,” said Christine Berthet, co-founder of the pedestrian advocacy group CHEKPEDS and the co-chair of Manhattan Community Board 4’s Transportation Committee.

A second motion to that effect, which added the police could always ask the Department of Transportation for more dedicated on-street spaces if needed, didn’t get a majority of committee members either.

Bersohn said he wasn’t surprised that the committee couldn’t agree on a proposal, noting that the issue came up toward the end of a nearly three-hour meeting.

He said he had devised the presentation after exhausting other options, like talking to cops outside the command post or filing 311 complaints into the void

“I look at this from the perspective of somebody who has asked nicely the police officer who’s standing in front of the precinct what’s is going on here … filing 311 requests which get mysteriously closed in 15 seconds to 15 minutes and say that they’ve taken care of the problem when nothing’s happened,” Bersohn said. 

Submitting 311 complaints can also be dangerous, as another Brooklynite learned in 2021, when cops in Downtown Brooklyn impersonated 311 operators and harassed and threatened him for reporting misconduct. The city forked over more than $150,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit that arose from that episode. 

The sea may be changing. NYPD brass recently told cops to stop parking on sidewalks at precincts, according to the NY Post (though the NYPD did not confirm that report in an email exchange with Streetsblog). The reported move to solve illegal parking follows a long-overdue review by the Department of Investigation confirming Streetsblog’s reporting that cops routinely ignore illegal parking complaints and their own rules.

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