Wednesday’s Headlines: The NYPD as Grief Counselor Edition

NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief Kim Royster says the agency does a good job consoling victims' families.
NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief Kim Royster says the agency does a good job consoling victims' families.

Is there a “bereavement folder” for Vision Zero?

Mayor de Blasio’s press conference on Tuesday was dominated by talk of Vision Zero — but not the way the mayor wanted. The mayor wanted to talk about the city’s Dusk and Darkness program to educate drivers to stop killing us. But instead, NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief Kim Royster was asked about the 50-percent drop in moving violations issued by NYPD officers — and then for some reason, rambled on about the agency’s “bereavement folder” that families of victims of fatal car crashes are given to help them deal with Surrogate Court (no, she really said that!).

The Post’s Nolan Hicks pricked up his ears (for all of us) and asked the obvious question:

Doesn’t it speak to a catastrophic failure of city policy that the city police department had to develop a bereavement folder to help people deal with death on city streets?

But Hicks was only getting warmed up. He then reminded the mayor of investigations by both Streetsblog (detailed) and the Post (less so) last month that revealed that the NYPD routinely closes thousands of 311 calls without taking action — or lies about the action taken or even allegedly harasses 311 callers who complain about police misconduct like illegal parking in a bike lane.

“Illegal parking in bike lanes forces bikes in the traffic, which is how bikers get killed,” Hicks said. “So why isn’t this being worked on? Why is this being allowed to continue? And why on Earth is it acceptable that the police department’s answer is, ‘There’s a bereavement folder’?”

The mayor gave his standard answer — he has, in fact, built a lot of bike lanes and put a lot of roads on “road diets” and he has very often talked the talk and walked the walk (though very rarely biked the bike) — but he also said the so-called bereavement folder is a “humane and decent” thing to do when “God forbid, someone’s lost.”

It sure would be. Except we reached out to the mother of Imorne Horton, who was killed earlier this year on Third Avenue by a hit-and-run driver, and she said she never got any such folder — or any help at all. The NYPD has told us that it has identified a suspect in the Feb. 24 crash, but has not made an arrest yet. For Tasha Horton, that would be the “humane and decent” thing to do (except that the NYPD only makes arrests in about 0.9 percent of hit-and-run cases, according to its own numbers). Hicks’s story about the bereavement folders is here.

Our own Julianne Cuba then jumped on the Vision Zero accountability bandwagon and asked Mayor de Blasio who was to blame — him or his DOT bureaucrats — for the hit-and-run death of Jose Ramos last month on Atlantic Avenue, a roadway that de Blasio set as a top priority for safety in 2014, yet was redesigned at great cost in 2019, yet not tamed in any way, with three speedway-like lanes and injuries occurring in the same numbers.

The mayor did not take Cuba’s bait and blame himself or the DOT. But he did admit his administration had failed.

“It is a work in progress,” he said. “But we are working hard on that one. It is a challenging area and it’s one of the areas we know needs more. … I really think if we find that a plan didn’t work, then it’s our job to go out there and change it, add to it, invest more, whatever it takes. That’s the bottom line.”

In other news from the presser, DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman kept to his timeline for the Queensboro Bridge bike lane project — it will start this year and be finished next year — but the DOT later had to admit that it won’t be finished until much later next year. (amNY)

In other news from elsewhere:

  • Oh, we have a Mayor-elect! And a comptroller-elect! And Council member-elects (and maybe a non-elect in Justin Brannan in Bay Ridge)! And new provisions to the State Constitution. Get your election roundups here: NY1NY Times. Check back later as Julianne Cuba updates you on the surprise finishes.
  • Speaking of the Mayor-elect, Curbed used seven reporters in round-the-clock shifts to determine if Eric Adams really lived at the Brooklyn house where he claims to abide (it’s inconclusive). The story was so good that the Times covered the Curbed effort!
  • More labor unions have joined the cab drivers’ fight for better debt relief. (NY Post)
  • Gov. Hochul has appointed a very talented DOT borough commissioner — the Bronx’s Nivardo Lopez — to a key state post. (Riverdale Press)
  • Transit workers are very slow to get vaccinated, which is a real problem when you’re trying to restore confidence in the subway (NYDN). Of course, another overtime scandal doesn’t help either. (NY Post)
  • Newsmax personality Greg Kelly did the privileged-but-aggrieved White guy thing after taking a city bus — and Twitter pounced. (NYDN)
  • A woman riding a Lime moped (not “scooter”) was injured on Meeker Avenue by the driver of a truck (not by “a truck”), the Post reports, without pointing out how deadly truck traffic is, thanks to bad road design in that part of Williamsburg. Just another tragic “accident”? No, a choice … made by our public officials.
  • Did you miss the War on Cars live show on Tuesday? Rich Mintz did a great series of live tweets.
  • And, finally, who has the guts to take on the … Schermerhorn Challenge? Posted by the Twitter account @nycbikelanes, the rules are simple: You must stay in the most-blocked bike lane in Brooklyn to win the $100 prize. Details below: