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Authorities with an agenda: Cops using police vehicle to advocate against constitutional convention - Brooklyn Paper

Authorities with an agenda: Cops using police vehicle to advocate against constitutional convention

Bad practice: Police in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s 79th Precinct violated city law by advertising their political agenda on a department van.
Photo by Nick Rizzo

New York’s Finest are bucking convention.

Cops in the 79th Precinct are using a police van to illegally sway residents to vote against a holding constitutional convention, infuriating reform-minded locals.

“It sucks to see public resources being spent to keep our system broken,” said Williamsburg district leader Nick Rizzo.

The politico noticed the van adorned with a bumper sticker that read “Vote No!” and “Constitutional Convention = More Taxes” in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Thursday. Following the last convention in 1967, pols passed legislation mandating New Yorkers vote every 20 years in November’s general election on whether or not to send delegates to Albany with the power to revise the state’s constitution.

But in placing the sticker on the van, police broke local laws that prohibit public servants from using government resources to “support or oppose a particular ballot referendum question.”

And 79th-Precinct authorities aren’t the only cops using department property to influence voters against amending the constitution. Last month, a good-government advocate snapped photos of a highway cruiser in Flatbush and a police van in the Bronx plastered with identical bumper stickers, enraging convention supporters.

“Using government resources in this way is totally illegal,” said Evan Davis, manager of the Committee for a Constitutional Convention. “It’s disappointing to see the NYPD, which is charged with upholding the law, breaking it.”

The most recent sticker sighting prompted a coalition of convention advocates to insist New York Police Department brass investigate its source and punish whomever slapped it on.

“We are publicly demanding the NYPD enforce the law on the very officers who are responsible for upholding it,” said Al Benninghoff, campaign manager for the coalition. “We demand they open an investigation to discover the officers responsible and bring them to justice.”

The convention is opposed by labor unions throughout the state, including the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which represents men and women in blue and urged them in a Facebook post to vote against it, claiming the caucus would waste “hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars” and jeopardize New Yorkers’ retirement rights.

The police department ordered precinct commanders across the city to ensure vehicles are inspected daily for “unauthorized equipment or items” in response to the bumper-sticker scandal, according to a spokesman. An officer in the 79th Precinct’s community affairs unit declined to comment.

This isn’t not the first time city vehicles have sported election-influencing propaganda. Last year, Department of Sanitation officials investigated agency employees after Midwood residents reported a garbage truck displaying a pro-Donald Trump sign in their nabe.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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