The Talk of the Town


This week’s New Yorker has a piece on the parking placard abuse that continues despite the mayor’s vow to crack down. (free registration to read).  The bomb scare in Times Square on New Year’s eve was occasioned by a van with a phony placard that had sat unmolested by the NYPD for days.

There seems very little point in limiting the number of genuine placards issued, if people are free to make their own.  The article mentions the First Presbyterian Church’s ‘we’re praying’ windshield signs, which apparently confer ticketing immunity – even in a bike lane, as well as the bogus ‘on medical call’ signs that plague the neighborhood.

I took these pics on Pierrepont Street. How do I become a member of the Fraternal Order of Amtrak Police?

Share this Story:


  • my2cents

    I used to work for a guy who had an FDNY placard on his giant SUV, which he would park right in front of the office building every day (illegally). It took every ounce of self control not to key it.
    I think Placard users should still be cited for their transgressions so that there is a record of their behavior that can be publicly accessed and evaluated each year. If they are found to be abusing their placard (parking illegally right in front of their work address for example), it should be revoked. Placards are really just another way that people in New York who have connections can get preferential treatment. Those church things aren’t even real placards. Those are just notes to the cops.

  • car owner

    I also think we should fine the meter maids who ticket out of State license plates just because they think they won’t fight the bogus tickets. I have a friend who has fought and won over 10 different parking tickets that were issued falsely by meter maids under the pretense that the owner would not fight them.

  • Ink Lake

    I’m the author, and have more pics on my blog.

    How hard would it be to have a bar-code on the placards, to quickly determine validity?

  • tb

    What would the bar code for praying be?

  • nabeguy

    Come to Hudson Square sometime, home to the VA, ICE, Post Office, Passport Bureau and a host of printers. The number of agencies afforded free parking privileges is mind-boggling.

  • Eddy
  • David on Middagh

    Just FYI, The New Yorker site seems to be requiring a subscription number before granting “free” access to the article.

  • Ink Lake

    I’m the author of the blog post. It is a pain about the New Yorker (I’m not a subscriber either).

    However, you can sign up for a sample of online delivery, which gets you 4 weeks. No credit card needed. Just an email address.

  • someone
  • tb

    Eddy… Ha! thats fantastic!

  • WillowtownCop

    The irony of the whole thing is, a fake plaque is better than a real one. Internal affairs has cracked down so hard on the NYPD issued ones that most cops I know don’t even bother to get one anymore. It doesn’t affect me- I don’t have a car- but the way it works is if IAB catches you with a plaque in your window parked illegally, not only do you get the ticket, they tow your car, confiscate the plaque, and give you what’s called a command discipline, meaning they take away vacation days. It’ll end up costing you several thousand dollars instead of whatever a civilian would have to pay for the ticket. It happens around here a lot because they lurk around the courts trying to nail people. Of course, if you had a fake one, traffic agents will probably skip over your car and so will IAB.

  • Heights Neighbor

    As much as we would all love to believe that cops would be disciplined that way it is not the case…at least in Brooklyn Heights. I can say with assurance, cops DO NOT ticket the placarded cars on Pierrepont Street…fake or not. They won’t do it… they have also been told not to ticket MD plates on blocks where there is a doctor’s office…even if they no there is no association and the owners just live on the block.

    The problem did not exist when oversight was under the DOT…only when it transferred to the police did this become a problem.

  • Peter

    FWIW, I haven’t seen the doctor’s car with the Amtrak plaque since I posted pics of it on my blog. Only time will tell.

  • AAR

    It is amazing (or maybe not) that these placards are respected by the ticket police while legitimate disabled placard holders are repeatedly ticketed for parking where they are authorized to park by NYC.

  • Heights Neighbor

    The traffic cops on Pierrepont also do not ticket disabled placarded cars on Pierrepont…authentic or not. And sometimes we have as many as 8-10 disabled placarded vehicles on one block alone!

  • bklyn20

    Two salient points — I think this is sometimes underreported in the major NYC media (please don’t be insulted, Homer!) because members of the press can get “NYP” (NY Press) plates. While there is some legitimate need for them, in case a reporter needs to go to a crime scene without worrying about parking tickets, I suspect many of these plates are on cars belonging to senior editors who spend much of their time behind a big desk.

    Also, although I believe it semi-illegal, the police are able to run the plates of those who have placards — and find out who they are and where they live. It can get the police officer in serious trouble, though, if it’s not done for a qualifying a murder investigation, maybe? Sadly, our moral outrage probably isn’t a qualifying reason.

  • WillowtownCop

    “Also, although I believe it semi-illegal, the police are able to run the plates of those who have placards — and find out who they are and where they live. It can get the police officer in serious trouble, though, if it’s not done for a qualifying reason.”

    Where on earth did you get that idea? A government issued license place on a car on a public street in public view is not something that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in. In fact, the NYPD has cameras on some of their highways vehicle that run ALL the license plates on a street as it drives by to see if any of the cars have been reported stolen. Police officers are encouraged to run as many license plates as they can in order to find vehicles that are not supposed to be on the streets.

  • nabeguy

    Thanks for connecting the dots between moral outrage and 1984, willowtown. Scary.

  • WillowtownCop

    The same people who think it’s scary are usually the same people who are screaming that the police aren’t doing anything to find their stolen cars. I think most reasonable people understand that vehicles are tightly regulated by the state anyway, for the safety of everyone, and that license plates are issued by the government for the specific purpose of keeping track of all the cars on the streets. So if you want to go somewhere without the government knowing about it, you are better off walking. EZ passes and metrocards purchased with your credit card can also be used to track your movements. Of course, the government either built or bought those trains and bridges, too, which you are free to use, or not.

  • bklyn20

    Willowtown cop, I think we are talking about 2 different scenarios.

    I thought/think it was/is illegal because someone with an NYP (Press) license plate warehoused their car in front of the building in Manhattan where I worked about a decade ago. The car stayed there, immobile, all week long. Obviously it was not being used to cover breaking news! I asked a cop acquaintance if he could run the plates; he said that he could lose his job over it.

    While that may not have meant “illegal,” it didn’t exactly scream “let’s get ’em!” either. Perhaps if it weres related to a crime, it would be different. And perhaps the presumption of privacy was stronger pre-9/11. My boss’ desire to park his car in front of the office was not exactly an emergency.

    Identifying abusive plate/placard holders should be done, yes. I am part of a car-free household right now, so I guess that’s easy for me to say!

  • WillowtownCop

    Yes, we were talking about two different things. I thought you meant running plates in general.

    I don’t know if he was just a rookie or what but the newspapers don’t exactly make cops look good in this town. I know quite a few cops whose days would be made by finding a NYP car illegally parked.

  • WillowtownCop

    OK, I just read your post again. Cops can’t run plates for personal reasons. If you’re off duty on your own block running the neighbors plates, you will get in trouble. They can see what plates you run, and they will ask questions if it’s not in your sector at the time you are working.