The NYPD is regularly towing unmarked police cars - leaving detectives stranded on the street with no way to transport suspects in handcuffs, the Daily News has learned.
Michael Palladino, head of the Detectives' Endowment Association, said tow operators working for the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau are meeting their daily quota - four tows and 20 summonses - by towing detectives who are legally parked or who have no choice but to double-park.
Recently, a Brooklyn detective investigating the hit-and-run that left a staffer for Mayor Bloomberg in a coma was called to the district attorney's office. When the detective left the meeting, his car was gone, Palladino said.
Palladino said unjustified tows have occurred while one or more detectives were:
- Arresting a Bronx murder suspect.
- Escorting a frightened witness to a Brooklyn murder scene.
- Notifying a murder victim's relatives and arranging to take them to the precinct.
- Arresting a burglary suspect - who laughed when the detectives realized their car was gone.
"It's embarrassing," Palladino said. "It takes our detectives four to six hours, often on overtime, to get the car back. In the meantime, another detective has to be called to come pick up the detectives who are stranded, or that third detective has to drive to court, or wherever, with the other two detectives and wait in the car."
In response, the detectives association turned the tables yesterday, tailing an NYPD tow truck and its Internal Affairs escort in order to witness the problem first-hand.
The DEA did the same thing last week and even photographed a tow truck parked in front of a hydrant.
The tow blitz appears to be a continuation of City Hall's crackdown, begun in 2008, on city-issued parking permits.
Palladino has been able to document 180 tows, including 40 from an informal survey of detectives. Most tows, he said, involved cars that were legally parked or weren't impeding traffic.
An NYPD spokesman, Inspector Ed Mullen, said the parking placards used by detectives prohibit parking "in front of hydrants or in bus stops and crosswalks."
But Palladino said that while patrol cars aren't being towed, probably because people would laugh, detectives are not given the benefit of the doubt.
"The department wants us to reduce crime, solve our cases and make arrests, and sometimes that requires us to park illegally," Palladino said. "If the practice continues, escapes and injuries are inevitable."
Article didn't mention if there IS any way to tell if the car belongs to the NYPD since it is, yanno, unmarked. Is it standard practice to run a plat before a tow? Otherwise, how is this issue fixable?
Secondly: My mother used to write tickets. She once gave one to an unmarked car. The officer was inside a nearby store making an arrest. At the time my mother was bewildered at the guy's extreme anger, since its not like they were going to make him pay it. Its not like there wasn't proof of the extenuating circumstances!
Now we see he may have had a bunch of paperwork and stuff to fill out anyway.
My mom would also like to point out that undercover officers are supposed to blend in, and if other city workers can't tell that's a cop car, then you've done your job well!
(not to mention the irony of the city's ticket blitz being turned on itself by towing city-owned cars to make ANOTHER quota)