Thursday’s Headlines: Paper Plates Edition

Temporary New Jersey license plates. File photos: Ben Verde
Temporary New Jersey license plates. File photos: Ben Verde

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea finally returned to taking questions from reporters yesterday after a long absence that included a police crackdown in Washington Square Park, a rise in shootings, continued public anger about police misconduct and any number of topics that the mayor has had to address by himself.

The reason for Shea’s return? Apparently, the NYPD has finally noticed that fake “temporary” license plates are a real problem. (The Post and Wall Street Journal covered).

Cops don’t know how many people have been printing out paper New Jersey, Texas and other out-of-state “temporary” plates, but Shea and Chief of Department Rodney Harrison claimed that cars bearing fake plates have been involved in 33 shootings and 550 crashes so far this year (that sounds like a lot of crashes until you realize there have been more than 45,000 crashes so far this year in the five boroughs, or roughly 280 per day).

Still, the appearance of Shea and Harrison got us thinking — if criminal drivers are using fake plates to commit untraceable drive-by shootings and get into crashes, they are almost certainly using the plates to evade camera-issued speeding, red light and bus lane tickets, right?

The number of fake plates that are being caught on camera — but not receiving a ticket — is on the rise. Chart: DOT
The number of fake plates that are being caught on camera — but not receiving a ticket — is on the rise. Chart: DOT

Turns out, we were onto something! Our friends at the Department of Transportation crunched some numbers and discovered that more and more camera tickets are coming back as un-issuable because of the paper plate issue.

For example, back in January, 2020, DOT cameras caught 1,596,295 doing something wrong (speeding, running a red light or parking in a bus lane), but only 8,750 (or .55 percent) were unreadable due to the fake plates.

By this January, the number of fake plates was up to 46,354 — or 2.7 percent of DOT camera “events.”

In April, it was up to 67,514 — or 3.28 percent!

Glad we asked!

In other news:

  • The leading mayoral candidates had their final debate before Tuesday’s primary — and from Streetsblog’s perspective, alas, there’s nothing to see here (NYDN, NY Times, WSJ). That said, the Post spun a few good angles, including one on Dianne Morales going after Wall Streeter Ray McGuire (the Times had that one, too) and Scott Stringer going after Andrew Yang on mental illness (the Times did that one as well). And the Times did a breakout on school segregation.
  • Some residents of the Village want “law and order” around Washington Square Park, which doesn’t belong to rich Village residents, but to everyone. But you know what side the tabloids are on, right? (NYDN, NY PostWe also covered, with a slightly different angle.
  • Earlier in the day, protesters demanded that we get the full $1-billion cut in the NYPD budget that we were promised but never got. (amNY)
  • A motorcyclist was killed in a crash with a car in Queens. (NYDN)
  • Ha ha ha, sure, it’s funny, NY Post, that a guy was arrested for having 99 license suspensions … but tell us, o Tabloid of Record, how was this guy driving around with 99 license suspensions? Anyone? Thought so.
  • For the record: No one believes that a person involved in a crash should leave the scene. So, sure, go ahead and pass a bill to make it a felony for an e-scooter or moped rider to leave the scene of a crash (NY Post). But that isn’t going to make our Wild West roads — where cyclists, e-bike riders, moped riders, scooter riders and Boba Fetts on monowheels compete for five feet of road space while drivers get 75 feet — any safer. We need road redesign to encourage safe cycling and e-biking and discourage the true danger on our roadways: car driving.
  • Hat tip to Comptroller candidate David Weprin, who just may have crafted the single greatest comptroller campaign ad in city history (YouTube). (Fortunately: a candidate’s position on congestion pricing and street safety also count in Weprin’s race against StreetsPAC favorites Corey Johnson and Brad Lander.
  • And, finally, our old man editor is going to see the Mets tonight at Shea, so Eve Kessler will be handling tomorrow’s headlines. Email her if something’s breaking (other than Marcus Stroman’s change, that is).