Top NYPD official claims cops park on sidewalks because there’s nowhere else to park on the streets

Screenshot 2023-03-20 165724
A row of cars parked illegally on the sidewalk outside the NYPD’s 71st precinct in Brooklyn.
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Police officers park their cars on the sidewalk outside precincts simply because there is nowhere else to park, a top NYPD official told members of the City Council on Monday.

Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey responded to questioning by Upper West Side Councilmember Gale Brewer on rampant illegal parking by police officers outside precincts, including both squad and personal vehicles, when he said that officers have no choice in the matter, given the paucity of legal spots around precincts.

“We listen to our communities, we know that it’s a problem,” said Maddrey. “We’re trying our best, in terms of just our officers parking as appropriately as possible. I know it’s difficult. A lot of people work at the precinct and there’s not enough parking spots.”

Brewer had been asking about the longstanding and widespread issue of officers parking their cars on the sidewalk outside precincts, a phenomenon visible at virtually every police precinct in New York City. It comes as the NYPD seeks to clean up its image among the populace by ostensibly making precincts less outwardly hostile, in the hopes that New Yorkers don’t immediately form negative perceptions within 15 seconds of arriving.

NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey (left) testifies to the City Council next to Commissioner Sewell on March 20, 2023.Gerardo Romo/NYC Council Media Unit

“I will say, if you want to look at the way the police are reviewed and seen, to have those kinds of cars all over the place and the barricades, it’s a challenge,” said Brewer. “We would love to see less parking of police and private cars, and I won’t even get into placards.”

Southwestern Bronx Councilmember Althea Stevens also highlighted NYPD parking as a major issue, particularly in her district.

“You definitely need to do something about the parking,” said Stevens. “My office is across the street from a precinct, and it becomes very difficult. And not just for me, but even to drive down. So definitely we want to make sure we look at.”

On Twitter, transit advocates were incredulous at Maddrey’s remarks, questioning why police officers could not just take the subway or bus along with most New Yorkers.

“If only there was a high capacity, relatively quick way for people in New York City to live in one place and commute to their jobs in another place,” wrote Ben Kabak, who blogs about transit as Second Avenue Sagas.

The NYPD did not respond to a request for data on how its employees commute to work. In the MTA’s environmental assessment for its congestion pricing program, the Census tract with the most car commuters, by far, was the one with 1 Police Plaza and the Manhattan courthouses, Streetsblog reported.

Others questioned the legitimacy of the remarks, contending Maddrey’s argument was that cops can break the law if it inconveniences them.

“I wonder how often the ‘I parked illegally because there weren’t enough convenient legal spots’ excuse flies for the rest of us,” wrote Michael Pollack, a professor and administrator at Cardozo School of Law.

A spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams did not respond to a request for comment. The administration has pledged to crack down on illegal parking, though the mayor himself has mocked efforts to clamp down on rampant abuse of city-issued parking placards and was notorious for allowing employees to park on Borough Hall plaza during his tenure as Brooklyn Borough President.

During his mayoral campaign, Adams’ Toyota Prius was spotted by Curbed driving on the sidewalk outside his Bedford-Stuyvesant building.