Posted by: vote4claxton | September 14, 2008

Community Groups Criticize New “Block The Box” Legislation
09/14/2008 02:28 PM
By: Cindi Avila

A couple of community groups gathered in Manhattan Sunday to try to put the brakes on the city’s new initiative to crack down on drivers who “block the box,” saying the plan endangers the lives of traffic agents. NY1’s Cindi Avila filed the following report.

Copyright © 2008 NY1 News

“We are, today, asking the NYPD to stop immediately and order no traffic agents to engage in this policy of issuing summons to vehicles that are blocking the box,” said Anthony Miranda of the National Latino Officers Association.

Representatives from the National Latino Officers Association and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement say while “blocking the box” citations may help traffic flow, it has the potential to hurt the traffic agents giving out tickets.

Until recently, obstructing traffic in an intersection was considered a moving violation, but a new law classifies it as a parking violation. That means now more than 2,500 traffic agents can crack down on the crime, but those against this new law say the agents have not been properly trained to do the job safely.

“It is unacceptable you would place professional police employees in direct danger, knowing full well traffic stops themselves are one of the most dangerous interactions even police officers engage in,” said Mark Claxton of the group 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne with the NYPD takes issue with that, saying in a statement, “Where’s he been? Traffic enforcement has always been a difficult and often dangerous job for TEAs and police officers alike, particularly at busy intersections. The change in the law makes it easier and faster to issue summonses by treating block-the-box as a parking ticket answerable by the car’s registered owner.”

Traffic agents started giving out the tickets with $115 fines on September 10th, and already more than a thousand have been issued.

Most of the people NY1 spoke with said if the tickets help traffic move more freely, then they support it.

“I think if they are going to implement this rule then this has to be a way to enforce it,” said one driver. “And if the only way to give a ticket is to walk into the intersection and issue a ticket, then that’s what they have to do.”

“It probably comes with the job,” said another. “If you are going to be working in traffic, there’s always a little bit of a risk. I don’t think it’s that big of a risk.”

But members of the National Latino Officers Association say they believe there are other alternatives.

“If you need to hire more police officers to engage in this activity then you need to do that,” said Miranda. “If you need to create a specialized unit to do this kind of activity, then you should do that.”


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