Monday, November 07, 2005


This is a picture of the trash left behind on McGuiness Blvd in Brooklyn after the big NYC Marathon today. I went to work late in order to miss most of the traffic caused by all the street closures, and I got lucky and was able to stay away from what was left of it after 4:00 p.m. I had no accidents or middle fingers tonight, so I guess it was a pretty uneventful shift.

But back to the aggravation. Sorry the picture's so shitty. I'm a little freaked out about taking pictures of cops because cops are scary. But come on, do they need to be blocking the entire fucking street just so they can chat while sitting in the comfort of their cruisers? What the fuck? This picture is from 14th Street, facing east, just past Broadway. And, in case you can't tell from the photo (try clicking on it to make it bigger), there are two cop cars blocking both lanes of the street, and one is facing the wrong direction, so their driver's sides were closer, making for a better conversation, I'm sure. All eastbound traffic basically had to swerve halfway into the oncoming traffic lane to get around them.

I see cops breaking the law all the time in a variety of ways (and I'm sure everybody has seen the one where a cop abuses his lights and siren by turning them on to get through a red light, just to shut it off again once he's through), but it infuriates me when they needlessly put everyone in danger like this. They clearly think they are above the law. And, you know what? They are. Who's gonna give these guys a fucking ticket? Themselves? Their dangerous, bad behavior has effectively caused me to have zero respect for them. And it sucks, because, as with people's opinions about cab drivers, I realize I am judging the many by the behavior of a few. But still. So if you, or anyone you know is a cop, you can make it all up to me by giving me a PBA card. Thanks.


jg said...

I know a couple of wonderful, upstanding police officers in the NYPD and PAPD. I could tell you hours of stories about their struggles with following the law while trying to uphold it. It can be a fine line sometimes. (But of course that refers to dealing with dangerous bad guys, not necessarily chatting in the middle of 14th Street.)

If I can snag an extra 2006 PBA card from one of them in January, I'll let you know.

PS Thanks for your unique blog. It is really an interesting point of view to read.

jcp said...

i'm with you on the cop thing. as someone who ends up driving a lot in this city for work, it's infuriating to see so many cops abusing their position by running red lights, parking illegally, blocking traffic for no reason, cutting people off, etc. it's worse especially when they are sitting there yet do nothing to people who are obviously flouting the law (e.g. anyone "blocking the box", or all the jerks on the southbound FDR who stay in the middle lane until the last second and then cut in line for the Brooklyn Bridge exit, thereby causing serious slowdowns while putting themselves and others at risk - no offense to you but cabs are some of the worst offenders there). when cops break the law and don't enforce it, it makes you think that they are assholes who became cops simply so they wouldn't have to follow the rules. certainly i appreciate the protection from violent criminals and the general safety of the city, but they hurt their own reputation and lose the respect of many people with that crap.

M.P. said...

jg, I acknowledge that not all cops are bad. Just like all drivers from Jersey can't be all bad. But, like I said in the post, my frustration comes out when they do dumb shit, like in the picture I took last night. I imagine it's an incredibly tough job, and I try my hardest to be empathetic to that, but sometimes it's impossible not to feel completely disrespected by them. If you're serious about that PBA card, I will love you forever.

jcp, I have to admit, I am definitely guilty of cutting in to that Brooklyn Bridge line from the middle lane from time to time. But when the money you make is in an inverse relationship with the amount of time you spend sitting in traffic, sometimes you just do what you have to do. Which means pissing people off and cutting in line. It sucks, but it's a fact of every cab driver's life. Besides, most of that traffic on the FDR Brooklyn Bridge approach is caused by the COP that sits there, blocking a lane at the entrance to the bridge, for what I'm presuming is an effort to counter terrorism. But all it seems to accomplish is endless aggravation in those of us who have to use the bridge on a regular basis.

Smitty said...

I'm a former NYC cop and can answer why some of these things happen.

1. Running red lights: Officers spend most of their day running from radio run to radio run, often with many jobs waiting. Most of these runs are not of an emergency manner( car accidents are a good example) which is why we don't go zipping around all day with our lights and sirens on, but the jobs are none the less important and we need to get there as quickly and SAFELY as possible. If it is safe to go through a light to get to a job more quickly, we'll do it. That will keep you waiting only 5 minutes at a crash seen versus say 10, and as you know in your line of work, time is money and saying that we are abusing the law is not quite fair or accurate.

2. Officers getting tickets: We actually can be issues tickets. It never happens, but a supervisor (sergeant, LT, etc) could actually do it. The bigger issue for us is the Inspections division. These are all sergeant or higher ranking cops who do nothing but watch us. If we do stupid things, they are the ones that bust us. We are disiplined internally.

3. Cops parked next to each other screwing up traffic: This is one we're not supposed to do, and if a supervisor saw it, he would tell the cops to break it up. I'm sure they weren't like that for a long period of time.

Aric said...

Sooo ... what you are saying, is that if you see cops blocking traffic, a simple phone call to their superior would get them moving?

I grew up in Seattle, and there, if I had a problem with cops blocking traffic, etc, I would simply dial 911, and tell the dispatcher that squad car XXX was blocking the road for no reason. I found that if people start complaining, things will happen. Good things.

Smitty said...

I wouldn't recommend calling 911, since 911 is for emergency calls, not to mention that central dispatch is manned by civilians in New York, not cops. You could call the precinct's non emergency line and ask to speak to the desk supervisor. If you have the number of the sector car, they'd know which cops are in it and could call them on the radio without really documenting it on a recorded emergency line.

M.P. said...

Smitty, thanks for enlightening me about why so many cops run red lights. I honestly didn't know that. I also agree that calling 911 for complaints of this nature might not be the best idea. On the other hand, when I tried to call the precinct in Greenpoint when I had that little accident last Thursday, there was no answer, and it ultimately took the cops a half an hour to get to us. I wonder if 311 could help with our traffic-blocking-cop woes.

mark said...

Of all the cities that I have lived in for long periods of time, I really think the NYPD ignores traffic laws/rules more than any other police department … and that pattern kind of shines a light on an interesting level of hubris.

My concern with police not subscribing to traffic laws and rules is that by doing so they isolate themselves from the rest of the community. If the NYPD had to stop at red lights and could not turn right on red when cruising around they would experience life as the rest of us do and see what is really going on out there. Instead of being aware of the surrounding city the NYPD's driving patterns insulates the officers in cruisers from the very city that they are protecting & serving.

Of course the NYPD should be blowing through traffic lights while on a call… but if they are on a call that warrants those actions, then their flashing lights should be on.

bklynd said...

I can agree that cops have important things to do etc. My pet peeve, though, is that many in my neighborhood do not follow the parking rules, and instead use their ID's as a free pass to park anywhere they want. Any other poor slob who works late has to park 10 blocks away.

elvira black said...

Well, aside from the cop riff, that ignorant anti Semitic guy who tried to commiserate with you about those whiny Jews--that's infuriating. Maybe you at least provided him with a bit of a reality check. I can imagine the kind of crap you have to listen to in your line of work.

Ra said...

I am truly enjoying your updates. Keep up the GREAT work!

ld said...

I'm a current NYC cop, so allow me to fill you in on a couple things...

We sometimes run through red lights, if our current assignment warrants a speedy arrival. And, on occassion, we do not want to arrive at a scene blaring our sirens or lighting up the streets with attention-seeking red/white lights. Sometimes, as with say, jobs in progress, we'd like to be a little stealthy and arrive unnoticed, hoping to gain a tactical edge on any perps still on scene. And waiting for a light to turn green gives the bad guys that much more time to leave and get away.

So, the next time you see a cop go through a red light, with turret lights on or off, it's a safe assumption that he might just be doing his job as effectively as he can, not trying to get a better place in line at dunkin donuts.

Secondly, we can and do block traffic for a variety of reasons. Just because you see two cops with their vehicles parked next to each other, and conversing amongst themselves, does not mean they are sharing the latest stationhouse gossip. It could mean that they are exchanging information *gasp* pertinent to a job that they are both on.

Imagine, for a second that both sets of officers are conducting a canvass for a perp and one is trying to give updated information to the other. Could you really be upset at them for it? Would you really want to call the precinct to report that they are blocking traffic for no reason? Is that few minutes of time that you are inconvenienced really more important than us helping someone who was just victimized?

Cops in this city do an extraordinary amount of work in a day, and deserve to have that work recognized. I don't expect to change your minds about us, because by the looks of your post, you are pretty set in having "zero respect" for us.

Just remember that, if god forbid, someone is breaking into your home, and you need our help asap. It may pain you to know that we actually ran through a red light or two, and blocked traffic while looking for perps in order to help you.

Anonymous said...

I am an ex NYC cab driver and I have a lot of love and respect for NYPD. In my dealings with cops in Manhattan and queens, I have found a big majority of them to be very pleasant, professional, helpful, kind and sympathetic to cab drivers. If you have a good sob story there is a good chance they would let you out of any ticket. If two cops cars block the middle of 14th street and exchange gossip to me it’s not the end of the world. On the other hand if you deal with TLC it is really an insulting experience. TLC courts are kangaroo courts where the driver has no rights or respect. In your driving in nyc be really careful at the triborough bride the mta asshole’s would give you a ticket in a heartbeat for not using a turn signal.

Keith said...

My NY pal Dean who is Jewish says

"They tried to kill us, we prevailed, let's eat"


Anonymous said...

I have seen nyc cops talking on cell phones while driving, now isnt that illegal?
I have seen nyc cops pass a red light only to cross over and park for breakfast.
I have seen nyc cops enter a oneway lane the opposite way and park that way to hit the deli our my area.
I have seen cop cars doubled parked in the winter, just so that they can conviniently conversate.
I have seen driving by mothers house giving the kids the finger.
Sometimes at night they cruise by and use their radio to joke around.
The NYPD lacks professionalism, the situation is so laxed that most people just fear them instead of looking up to the officers.
Parking your car on a no parking tow zone, a hydrin, the pedestrian box, in front of a church, a bus stop, a curve and placing your parking permit on it is a clear example of how above the law most of these guys think they are.

mamdigs said...















Zach said...

there is this guy in new york who videotapes cops breaking the law.He is called Jimmy his videos on youtube.

Anonymous said...

The NYPD will always have an excuse for running redlights, but miss the point that doing so completely undermines the relationship that they have with the community. I was a boy scout and I learned a lot from it, and one of the basic principles was leadership, and importantly, leadership by example. Since I see an example that is worthless, I break every traffic law I want to and hope that I don't get caught- I ride a motorcycle and rape traffic law every day, and I only get bogus tickets from the NYPD when I am not actually doing anything illegal, even further undermining my respect for the NYPD. The social contact that our government is built on,is, in my opinion, manifested through the daily interactions of governmental agencies and the general public. An important player in that interaction is the police. When the police flaunt the law, the law is apparently optional. To me, it all starts at the redlight- redlights are the canary in the cave- if the police in your town run redlights, you have a problem.