NEW YORK (PIX11) — The NYPD’s chief of patrol says he is cracking down on his own officers who park illegally.
Police sources told PIX11 News that after the chief had a feisty exchange with a Brooklyn city councilman on Monday, word has been spreading among the rank-and-file officers to avoid questionable parking.
“It drives me insane when I see a car parked on the sidewalk blocking people from walking,” NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell on Monday. “I understand what the issue is. I am dealing with it. I am not treating it like a joke.”
Chell said 39 times in the last four months he has punished officers for parking illegally or obscuring their personal license plates. He said he is docking vacation days and leaving notes in personnel files. Plus, Chell said he has sent out memos, made rollcall announcements, and even got police unions involved — all to hold officers accountable when they break parking rules, particularly around precincts with their personal vehicles and squad cars.
His comments came in response to questioning by Brooklyn Councilman Lincoln Restler, who said the efforts don’t go nearly far enough.
“I have never ever not seen illegal parking in front of a precinct,” Restler said Monday. “I walk by them every single day. It is ubiquitous. The idea that there’s any accountability around this is a joke.”
Restler, an avid bicyclist, said he’s particularly concerned about vehicles that block bike lanes.
“The NYPD has failed to enforce against this illegal activity,” Restler said. “If they’re not going to follow the rules themselves, you really think they’re going to enforce it against someone else?
PIX11 bounced around town Tuesday and saw squad cars and personal vehicles of officers generally parked in spots marked for them. There was some sidewalk hopping around crowded precincts that made it a little harder for people to pass.
PIX11 did not observe any personal officer vehicles or squad cars blocking bike lanes. But PIX11 did see bike lanes routinely blocked by other types of vehicles. The NYPD said it’s aware of the issue and has increased responses to illegal parking by 65%.
Restler is proposing a bill that would allow citizens to take pictures of all cars parked illegally — police or not — and send those photos to the city so the registered owner could face a fine.