NEW YORK — Your routine car inspection is set to change soon. It's in the name of police safety, but it also underscores an ongoing rivalry between New York City Hall and the governor's office.
Specifically, a bill that would prohibit dark tinted windows on the front driver's side and passenger's side doors has now passed the New York State senate and the assembly, and is awaiting the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"I truly believe this will help protecting police officers," said NYPD Sgt. Herman Yan in an interview.
Yan knows of what he speaks. He'd been on patrol nine years ago, when his partner, Detective Russel Timoshenko, met an untimely fate after they'd approached a BMW with deeply tinted windows.
"We lost Detective Russel Timoshenko because he couldn't see the danger that awaited him," said Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news conference promoting the tinted window bill.
"Sergeant Yan was shot in the arm and the chest," the mayor continued, pointing out that Yan's bullet resistant vest saved his life.
Yan said at the news conference that it was the dark window tinting that made the difference, for the worst. "We couldn't see how many occupants were in the car," the sergeant said. "This legislation would help that."
The legislation would require vehicle inspectors to fail any vehicle with darkened windows in the front. Police Commissioner James O'Neill said that the proposed law makes good sense for his cops.
"Just yesterday," said the commissioner, "I issued a safety order [to the department] on account of four cops around country shot doing their jobs."
Also at the news conference was State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, a Democrat from Elmhurst, Queens, who wrote the legislation.
"Governor, if you hear my voice," he implored from the podium, "sign this legislation. Let's make New York safer."
His legislation is a revision of a similar bill that also passed both houses four years ago. Gov. Cuomo did not sign it then, citing the expense of inspecting tint on each vehicle.
A change of technology has lowered the cost and with inspectors responsible for testing, rather than any other entity, it concentrates the task, saving money and time.
A few hours after the news conference, the governor's office responded to an injury from PIX11 News. "We always intended to sign this legislation and would have been glad to tell the city if they'd just asked us," said spokeswoman Dani Lever in a written statement. "No need to grandstand," it concluded.
In response to that, City Hall issued a statement of its own early Monday evening. "Nearly five years and one veto later, we're glad the governor is ready to protect our police by taking illegal vehicles off the street," said Austin Finan, a mayoral spokesman.
Clearly, the Cuomo-de Blasio rivalry is alive and well. Both sides, at least, said they agree that officers' safety is of the utmost importance, which is why they favor this legislation now.
The governor is expected to sign it into law by next week.