NYPD speaks: We’re hogging parking spots

A line of traffic enforcement vehicles double-parked on Benson Street near the corner of St. Raymond’s Avenue has caused an outcry in the Westchester Square business community and a response from the NYPD. - Photo courtesy of John Bonizio

Police have finally responded to Westchester Square residents who are riled up when it comes to traffic enforcement agents taking up valuable parking spots by jockeying personal and professional vehicles during changes of shifts.

The NYPD has promised to look into the issue and alleviate the concerns of businesses and local leaders who have had enough of the lack of respect traffic enforcement agents have shown the community. 

The issue came to a head when after a meeting at Doyle’s Pub with Councilman James Vacca on Monday May 9, John Bonizio, the president of the Westchester Square Merchants Association was shocked to find no less than 12 vehicles belonging to the NYPD-Traffic Enforcement Division double-parked.

The vehicles were there for over an hour, some blocking in the cars of shoppers in the area.

“I approached a traffic agent [who was getting out of a double parked car], and asked how a motorist could get out if they needed to, and was told ‘we can park where we want.’”

Bonizio said having the T-202 traffic command in Westchester Square creates two major problems.

The first, he said, is that the traffic agents park their personal vehicles in metered spots during their shifts.

The second issue arises when there are shift changes and the traffic agents double-park.

Bonizio feels it would benefit the merchants and the traffic agents if the station were moved into the former Parking Violations Bureau Building, which has a parking lot in the back of the property for vehicles. This would free up space on the square for the cars of customers patronizing the shopping venue.

“The agents think that because they are making so much money for the city, it gives them the right to violate the law,” Bonizio continued. “You see an agent break the law, and then go over to someone else’s car and write a parking ticket.”

Bonizio was critical of what he saw as a pattern of ingratitude on the part of the agents, who he says do not respect the people of the city.

“The streets belong to the people of the city of New York,”

Bonizio said. “There are a lot of problems with law enforcement in this area, but it isn’t because the police and enforcement are not working hard. I really don’t think they appreciate the law abiding citizens of New York.”

Not all police feel that way.  The work of Bonizio and other merchants in the square drew a response from the NYPD, which promised to work to correct the merchant’s concerns.

“This situation exists in a lot of police facilities where there is limited parking due to congestion,” said Captain Wayne Wellson of the NYPD. “I have spoken with Traffic Supervisor Sonia Thompson, who is in charge of the command, and told her something must be done in the next 10 tours to ameliorate the situation, even if it means [the agents] parking a few blocks away.”

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