Fast and furious: Pols outraged at NYPD for not ticketing speeders

Speeding is rampant on most major Brooklyn streets — but cops have not been ticketing the problem in Brownstone communities.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Cops in three Brownstone Brooklyn precincts ticketed just two speeding motorists for the second straight month — a disturbing trend that could cost pedestrians their lives, politicians fear.

Officers in Park Slope’s 78th Precinct did not issue a single speeding ticket in June — echoing their approach to speeding enforcement in May, records indicate. Cops at the 77th Precinct in Prospect Heights and Crown Heights followed suit, giving out no speeding tickets last month after issuing just one over the previous 30 days, while police at Fort Greene and Clinton Hill’s 88th Precinct ticketed two speeding motorists — up from one in May.

Elected officials say the stats show a frightening policy of inaction.

“The reason why so many ghost bikes are in our neighborhood is that they’re a symbol of all the fatalities we have experienced,” said Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene). “The NYPD needs to get serious about drivers who speed.”

The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment, but community leaders were quick to say the department’s lack of speed-limit enforcement runs directly contrary to another city campaign: an aggressive anti-speeding initiative by the Department of Transportation that uses billboards, ads, and “slow zones” in an attempt to coerce drivers into slowing down.

“I don’t think that one side of City Hall is communicating with the other,” said James. “The NYPD is again on its own in not coordinating with all the other initiatives that are being put forth to address speeding.”

Other neighborhood leaders say cops must rethink their priorities.

“Our precincts need to do more, and residents in the area expect more,” said Councilman Steve Levin (D–Downtown), who once used a radar gun to prove that 88 percent of Atlantic Avenue motorists exceed the speed limit. “People speed down Atlantic Avenue at many times of the day, especially when there is no traffic. I see it every day from my office.”

James and Levin said they asked NYPD brass to address reckless driving at a council hearing on traffic enforcement in February — a meeting where the department admitted it issued nearly twice as many tickets to cyclists as it did to truck drivers in 2011. Both politicians say they are still awaiting an official response.

Cops at the 88th Precinct have only ticketed 18 speeding motorists all year, but the enforcement drought appears to have begun in recent months in Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Crown Heights.

Data from the first four months of 2012 shows that the 77th and 78th precincts averaged nine and 20 speeding tickets per month until May, when the numbers dropped.

Not that police weren’t out there giving tickets. Cops in the three precincts issued a combined 513 tickets to drivers using cellphones behind the wheel in June alone.

Other Brownstone Brooklyn precincts issued slightly more speeding tickets — with cops at Brooklyn Heights, Downtown, and DUMBO’s 84th Precinct doling out six in June, and the 76th Precinct, which covers Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook, leading the pack with eight.

Pedestrians say motorists in the neighborhoods treat the streets like a speedway.

“It’s scary around here — people drive like they’re on a highway,” said Fort Greene resident Nancy Finton as she walked down Lafayette Avenue with her young son.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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