The New York Police Department has been towing its own unmarked cars and then paying detectives overtime to retrieve them from the pound, the head of the detectives' union says.
Michael Palladino, president of the Detective's Endowment Association, says that over 18 months the union has documented nearly 40 instances of detectives' cars being towed while they were
on the job.
``When they exited either the building or the courthouse, sometimes with perpetrators in handcuffs, the car is gone. It's been towed by the Internal Affairs Bureau,'' Palladino said. ``And it's interfering with the administration of justice.''
Palladino said unmarked vehicles and detectives' personal vehicles were being targeted near courthouses and elsewhere.
They have special parking placards that identify them, he said.
Parking placards never allowed officers to park illegally in front of fire hydrants, bus stops, cross walks and on sidewalks,
said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the NYPD.
But the department has stepped up enforcement of illegal parking after Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut back the number of placards issued by about 20 percent because of illegal parking, particularly
in the areas near courthouses. Federal agents, police and other state agents were often parking illegally in those areas.
``It's not exclusively police cars, although we do enforce against our own members if they're illegally parked,'' Browne said.
But the practice has endangered stranded officers, the public and even those under arrest, said Palladino.
The union head recounted one instance in which a homicide witness who had received threats was testifying anonymously. When
the witness exited the courthouse with detectives to be quickly ushered home, they found the police vehicle was gone.
He said that no detective should be parking unsafely, but that it's impractical and dangerous to expect them to drive for blocks
seeking a parking spot when they are in pursuit of a suspect or escorting a witness or victim.
``Policing the police is one thing. This is a simple harassment of the police when they're trying to perform their duties,'' he