Mayor Didn’t Crack Down on Reckless Cops, Yet Does Not Feel Responsible for Speeding Cop’s Death

Mayor de Blasio, with the angels of El Puente above him, speaks to reporters. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Mayor de Blasio, with the angels of El Puente above him, speaks to reporters. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Mayor de Blasio, who has been warned repeatedly by Streetsblog about the high rate of reckless drivers among the NYPD, said he does not feel responsible for the racing death last week of a cop whose long prior record of speeding could have, but had not, triggered disciplinary action to keep him from driving.

NYPD Officer Garman Chen.
NYPD Officer Garman Chen.

Officer Garman Chen had 22 speeding and red light tickets on his record before he sped to his fiery death early Saturday — so Streetsblog asked the mayor if he felt responsibility for not keeping Chen off the road, where he was a danger to himself and others, given that he promised back in April to crack down on reckless officers after our reporting showed that 38 percent of cars belong to NYPD officers or employees had multiple moving violations on their records — more than twice the rate of the general public.

The exchange in full:

Streetsblog: Pre-emptive effort with Officer Chen could have prevented him from being in that car that night. Do you feel some responsibility for that death?

precincts through 11-20-19Mayor: No. I think we have to address this issue at its core, which is continuing to educate people that if they get behind the wheel of a car they are taking their lives and everyone else’s lives in their own hands and they have to drive responsibly. That’s what Vision Zero has been about from Day 1. We’ve seen a huge amount of behavior change because of that, but you know I also believe in addition to education and the carrot, I believe in the stick. I’ve ben calling for and I think you agree with this notion, stronger penalties for reckless driving and we need some of that at the city level and at the state level. We need all of the above. City agencies need to discipline their own but we also need more stringent laws for reckless driving.

In an earlier exchange, Hizzoner deflected Streetsblog’s question about whether he or the NYPD has been properly cracking down on reckless cops overall. Earlier this year, de Blasio said he would take action.

And 44 percent of cops at Chen’s 76th Precinct in Brooklyn had multiple moving violations.

But it’s unclear if the mayor has done anything. The exchange:

Streetsblog: In April, you said you would look at that and possibly discipline officers, such as Garman Chen. We’ve asked your office repeatedly, we’ve asked the NYPD to document whether officers have been disciplined for this type of reckless driving and have not gotten an answer, so are reckless drivers being disciplined?

Mayor: They should be. The bottom line is they should be. We’ll find out and we’ll get you a clear answer, and if it’s not enough, more will be done. This is very serious stuff.

We’ve reached out to City Hall to see if a clearer answer is coming. We will update this story if we get something.