MARCH (PARKING) MADNESS: The Eastern Regional Final is an Epic Battle of Long Island

We’ve made it to the Final Four of our annual March (Parking) Madness tournament, where NYPD precincts compete to see which is the most disrespectful of its neighbors thanks to illegal parking, garbage and general lack of concern for anyone other than police officers’ convenience. The story below pits the 110th Precinct (our Queens champion losers) vs. the Brooklyn winner jerks, the 84th Precinct. And in our Western Regional later today, the 41st Precinct of the Bronx is taking on the 24th Precinct of Manhattan (click here for that bout). Polls will remain open until Friday at noon in both contests. For a reminder of why we do this contest, click here.

It's time for the Final Four! Click to enlarge.
It’s time for the Final Four! Click to enlarge.

We honestly believe the winner loser of this contest is in today’s matchup. Not to knock praise the loathsome behavior at the 41st Precinct in Hunts Point or the 24th Precinct on the Upper West Side, but nothing we have seen thus far in this contest compares to the aggressive illegal parking and disrespect of neighbors that we have seen in Downtown Brooklyn and in Elmhurst from these two warhorses.

We believe that the winner of this regional will go all the way to the championship dishonorable disgrace in this contest. And it’s quite possible that the 84th Precinct is the only police unit that has what it takes to unseat the 110th. But who knows? That’s why you have to play the ballgames.

So let’s get to it:

The 84th Precinct (Downtown Brooklyn)

First, a recap: The Downtown stationhouse made it to the Final Four thanks to a surprisingly easy 84 percent to 16 percent thrashing of the 69th Precinct in Canarsie. It was a relatively close contest until we posted a picture of an 84th cop parking her squad car SUV in the Jay Street bike lane while she went on a donut run. Voters reacted predictably.

If you can believe it, the easy victory has made the 84th Precinct stronger, thanks to some more outrageous completely expected behavior we spotted during the Eastern Regional finals. Here’s our report:

We had grown weary of running the plates on all the illegally parked cars at the 84th Precinct stationhouse on Gold Street in Downtown Brooklyn; in our last encounters with this building, we had spotted so much casual lawbreaking that we barely felt that Deputy Inspector Adeel Rana’s were redeemable able to follow basic law. For instance, we found:

  • One cop with 39 speeding tickets since January, 2021.
  • One cop with 16 speeding tickets since December, 2021.
  • Another with 34 speeding tickets and two red light tickets (and a tampered plate!).
  • Four cops with 10 or more speeding and/or red light tickets
  • And a North Carolina-plated car in an NYPD space with 13 speeding tickets, two red light tickets and 10 parking tickets since July.

We wondered by Rana allows such lawbreakers in his command, but it turns out that this fish stinks from the head down. When we visited the 84th Precinct on Monday, the car that was parked in the commanding officer’s space was one with 12 camera-issued speeding tickets and two camera-issued red light tickets since the last day of 2019. The car has been nabbed for nine speeding tickets and two red-light tickets in the last 12 months, almost enough to require Rana (remember, this is the commanding officer of a New York City police precinct) to undergo a city-mandated safe-driving course.

He’s paid all his tickets, so he’s not in danger of being towed. And since camera-issued tickets don’t count against a driver’s record, he’ll never have to worry about any state driving sanction. And as the commander of an NYPD precinct, he won’t likely ever get a ticket from one of his or someone else’s officers if one ever pulls him over for reckless driving between his workplace and his home (which records suggest is in Staten Island).

Many local officials have looked to Rana for help in arresting the DUMBO-to-Fort Greene precinct’s most visible problem: placard abuse, illegal parking and police parking in bike and bus lanes. Given Rana’s driving record, it’s no surprise that clamping down on cops who leave their cars wherever they want is not a big concern of his.

As a result, the usual disrespect for the neighborhood continues unabated. Let’s first start with the borough’s placard abuse epicenter: under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway between Navy and Gold street. This hotspot, which features cement islands, hills and highway off-ramps, has been a problem for so long that the egregious placard abuse even came up at a Council hearing last year, and then the NYPD’s Transportation Bureau followed with a one-day crackdown against the unplacarded cars (but not the cops or firefighters who slap a piece of plastic on their dash).

How does that area look today? Three panoramas will tell you that nothing has changed and, in fact, has gotten way worse:

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The area under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is just one of the placard corruption zones that Rana tolerates in his command. The others are near the Transit Bureau 30 substation on Schermerhorn Street (too many Streetsblog clips to provide all the links), near the neighborhood’s many courthouses, and along Jay Street.

So regardless of what 84th Precinct cops do at their own house, these officers might deserve to go to the Finals simply by what they tolerate in their enforcement zone.

And what they do at their own house is substantially disrespectful of the neighbors. Let’s start with a slideshow of how they treat the blocks around the Gold Street epicenter. First, they park on the sidewalks:

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And they also ring the stationhouse with combat parking, which makes it impossible or difficult for neighbors to simply walk down the sidewalk:

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And Tillary Street, which is the gateway to Downtown Brooklyn for visitors exiting the BQE, cops have turned the redesigned median and areas with curb bulbouts into their parking lot. Here’s what that looks like:

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The last photo in that slideshow of the cop blocking the curb cut is crucial because it also brings up the other dominant problem of officers under Adeel Rana’s command: The other day, we spotted two defaced plates on NYPD-placarded cars. One, the guy in that curb cut, has 35 camera-issued speeding and three camera-issued red light tickets on his record (10 speeding tickets in the last 10 months) — all but the most recent have been paid.

This is illegal behavior by a cop.
This is illegal behavior by a cop.

The other car with a defaced plate was spotted parked in the middle of Prince Street. It has 10 speeding tickets, three red light tickets and 66 parking tickets — and the owner of the car has been found guilty for unpaid summonses totaling well over the $350 limit set by the Sheriff’s office. That means this car could be towed away for non-payment in the next few days. But will it be? If the Sheriff needs any help, here’s a picture:

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We could go on, but it’s just the same old, same old: just north of the precincthouse, for example, in a curb marked as “No parking 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” but that doesn’t mean it won’t be filled with parked police officers’ personal vehicles. On Monday, we found one car with a detective’s business card in the windshield. We ran his plate: two speeding tickets and one red-light ticket since mid-2020. (His business card is below):

cops card on dash

We reached out to Det. Razzo and if he responds, we will print it.

Perhaps our favorite thing about the 84th Precinct is not even related to the cops, but to basic optimism. Believe it or not, the owners of a nearby parking garage actually threaten would-be scofflaws by claiming they’ll be towed. Ha ha ha ha ha!

No they won't!
No they won’t!

In the end, it looks like the 84th has the right wrong stuff. Clearly, Adeel Rana’s troops came to play. But did their counterparts in Queens? Let’s see.

The 110th Precinct (Elmhurst)

First, a recap: The 110th — which lost such a heartbreaker to last year’s eventual winner, the 114th, that we invited it back this year — made it to the Eastern Regional with an easy victory over the hardly egregious minimally acceptable 112th Precinct in Forest Hills, and a revenge win in the borough final over the 114th in Astoria.

But all those easy wins clearly softened up Deputy Inspector Jonathan Cermeli’s officers because on the day of the Eastern Regional, they simply did not show up to play behaved reasonably acceptably.

In our past two visits to the 43rd Avenue stationhouse, we observed so much mayhem, chaos, disrespect and outright theft of space from neighbors that we thought the 110th would cruise to March (Parking) Madness victory, and the legendary status ignominious stain that comes with it.

But this week, when we visited, Cermeli’s officers were more or less like their counterparts all over the city: bad, but certainly not worthy of taking home a trophy for discourtesy.

Yes, all the same offenses were present — the blocks and blocks of combat parking, the parking of squad cars in neighbors’ driveways, the double- and triple-parking, and the blocking of curb cuts — but it just wasn’t as bad as we had seen it previously. Still, it’s pretty bad, as these slideshows demonstrate.

First, all the egregious combat parking on a side street (this doesn’t even include a long block of combat parking in front of the stationhouse):

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Then there’s the illegally parked private police officers’ cars, and the squad cars, left in driveways, crosswalks and in the middle of the street:

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And perhaps the best single image that sums up what you find at the 110th Precinct is the sight of a squad car just pushed onto the sidewalk as if it careened there after a crash:

squad car on sidewalk like it was crashed

But, sorry, Elmhurst voters, we just don’t know what to say: Your cops just don’t seem to want to win lose this round to move onto the Finals. We want to say it’s sad, but, maybe after competing in five rounds in this contest over two years, maybe, just maybe, Cermeli’s sick of all the attention.

But maybe the 110th can still pull it out. Please vote below. Polls will remain open until Friday at noon.

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