Is the NYPD Mishandling Illegal Parking Complaints?

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A recent investigation reveals that the New York Police Department did not issue as many tickets as they say they have in response to complaints that were made.

A new investigation by Streetsblog asks whether the New York Police Department responded to as many 311 complaints regarding blocked bike lanes as it claimed to. According to the report, the NYPD said it issued “more than 100 tickets last year” over such complaints, but an analysis of city-provided data “contain no record of nearly one-fifth of those summonses.”

When Streetsblog attempted to identify tickets connected to 109 bike lane complaints, it was unable to locate 21, or 19%. As it notes, however, the “the number of missing tickets could be even higher,” because its search depended on “broad criteria” that included all summonses issued within “the same time-frame as the 311 complaint… within tow blocks of the blocked bike lane,” meaning that even summonses included in its analysis may not actually have been connected to the blocked bike lane complaints.

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These recent findings could be very serious for the NYPD if civilians are taking the time to make complaints about blocked bike lanes and parking violations and the department is falsifying their claims about responding to these issues.

Meanwhile, the developer of an app that lets New Yorkers file 311 reports conducted his own analysis that found the NYPD may have issued even fewer tickets than Streetsblog’s analysis suggests. The app, Reported, lets users send the city 311 complaints about blocked park lanes and other parking violations. Its users reportedly “submitted 5,400 such complaints to the NYPD last year,” with the app’s creator telling Streetsblog that the NYPD claimed it issued summonses connected to 24 such complaints. Because the app’s data includes license plate numbers for the vehicles at issue in users’ complains, the creator was able to search city data for the license plates of the 24 vehicles purportedly issued summons. What he ultimately found was that only 11 of those vehicles were ticketed. 

According to Streetsblog, “false responses to 311 complaints could… violate NYPD rules” and lead to investigations by New York CIty’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, especially if the NYPD over-reports summonses issued in other types of complaints. As one City Council member told Streetsblog, “If there is record falsification, that’s very serious.” Another City Council member agreed: “When citizens take the time to make a complaint, they should get an honest answer… if they’re not getting honest answers, my committee needs to know about it.” The NYPD told Streetsblog through a spokesperson that it was reviewing its data.

More information on the analysis of NYPD illegal parking complaints is available via Streetsblog.

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