Brownstone Brooklyn cops must give more speeding tickets, activists say

Brownstone Brooklyn cops must give more speeding tickets, activists say
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Police in Brownstone Brooklyn are turning a blind eye to speeding motorists, according to street-safety advocates who are outraged over the fact that officers from three precincts covering a broad swath of the borough ticketed only two speeding drivers in the entire month of May.

Officers from Park Slope’s 78th Precinct did not issue a single speeding ticket during the month, while cops from the 88th Precinct, which monitors Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, and the 77th Precinct, which covers Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, gave out just one each.

Neighborhood activists were shocked by the numbers, saying anti-speeding efforts should be paramount in an area so heavily used by pedestrians and bicyclists.

“It’s fearful when you’re thinking, ‘These are the streets I live on and I just can’t even cross them,’ ” said Fort Greene resident Hilda Cohen, who founded the traffic-calming group Make Lafayette Safer last fall in an attempt to slow motorists on the thoroughfare. “I don’t know why the things that are proven to be unsafe are not addressed.”

The 77th, 78th, and 88th precincts, as well as the main NYPD press office, did not respond to requests for comment. But city officials acknowledge that speeding is a problem in Brooklyn: a recent Department of Transportation study found that 39 percent of Lafayette Avenue motorists exceed the speed limit of 30 miles per hour.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Downtown) even brought a radar gun to Atlantic Avenue, where he found that a whopping 88 percent of drivers speed — many by more than 10 miles per hour.

“The police department has to do leaps and bounds better than what they’re doing,” Levin said.

The city is in the midst of an aggressive anti-speeding initiative launched in 2010 with the blessing of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly that features macabre billboards claiming pedestrians who are struck by cars driving at 40 miles per hour have a 70 percent chance of dying, while those struck by vehicles travelling at 30 miles per hour have an 80 percent chance of living.

The NYPD even received $150,000 in federal funds for increased enforcement of speeding motorists.

Road safety advocates say anti-speeding efforts obviously aren’t a priority in Brownstone Brooklyn compared to other parts of the city like northern Queens, where cops issued 416 speeding tickets across eight police precincts in May.

Other Brooklyn precincts issued only a few more speeding tickets than their peers in Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Prospect Heights: the 84th Precinct, which includes DUMBO, Downtown, and Brooklyn Heights, gave out four, and the 76th Precinct, which oversees Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook, dished out eight.

Brownstone Brooklyn cops didn’t stop many speeders, but they were harsh on other vehicular offenses, with the 77th Precinct flagging 44 drivers for improper headlights and the 88th Precinct ticketing 143 drivers for cellphone use in May.

But street safety advocates say speeding is the main cause for fatal crashes citywide — and something must be done to stop it.

“The NYPD is not living up to its mission: far too many drivers are getting away with speeding and putting all our lives at risk,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesman Michael Murphy, whose group claims speeding drivers took 45 lives and injured another 2,300 people citywide in 2010.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.