City investigates NYPD 311 harassment allegations after Streetsblog report – Streetsblog New York City
The city has launched an investigation into the harassment 311 users said they faced after submitting illegal parking reports to the NYPD, stepping up scrutiny of the police response to driver misconduct complaints.
A spokeswoman for the city’s Investigations Department confirmed on Friday evening that agency staff were investigating the allegations – two months after Streetsblog reported them as part of a larger investigation into the treatment with the police of 311 complaints. The spokeswoman did not provide further details on the city’s investigation, which was initially reported by The Atlantic last week.
311 users told Streetsblog they received roadblocks of phone calls in the middle of the night from blocked phone numbers after submitting reports of cars obstructing cycle lanes, using questionable parking signs or flouting other traffic laws. Some anonymous callers left voicemail messages that contained only a gasping breath or a man repeating a 311 user’s name over and over again. Recipients said they believed cops were trying to intimidate them into not filing further complaints.
Another 311 user received an intimidating text message from an unidentified sender after Streetsblog reported an exchange of insults he had with a city cop over his 311 complaints.
Even council member Robert Holden (D-Queens) said he got calls at 3 a.m. after filing 311 complaints – in his case the cops who identified themselves. He called the late-night calls “inappropriate” and accused the NYPD of not taking the issue seriously.
The allegations are part of a larger pattern of police negligence of 311 reporting illegal parking, chronic reckless driving and abandoned vehicles, Streetsblog found. This contempt has fostered a culture of lawlessness on the city streets as road deaths peak in years.
Streetsblog’s investigation prompted Mayor de Blasio and council member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) to ask the city to specifically investigate the harassment allegations.
“Whether [the harassing phone calls are] coming from an employee of the city or elsewhere, it is not good ”, declared the mayor in October. “What we need to know is what happened in these cases.”
Evan Thies, spokesperson for incoming mayor Eric Adams, did not respond to requests for comment for Streetsblog stories on the matter.
City council is also reviewing the NYPD’s handling of 311 complaints. Over the summer, cops ignored more than a dozen 311 complaints about illegal parking filed by Council investigators, although they said they had resolved them. Council members berated police over the matter at a hearing in October.
Police chiefs swore at the hearing that the NYPD takes 311 seriously, but the department missed the October deadline to turn over the relevant files to Council, leading lawmakers to issue a subpoena to appear. A council spokesperson told Streetsblog on Monday that “the NYPD has agreed to provide the subpoenaed documents” but did not respond to further questions.
On Monday, Chong Bretillon, who said she received half a dozen intimidating anonymous calls after filing 311 complaints, said she was happy the city was finally addressing the issue.
“It’s okay. I hope they will be punished,” she said of the anonymous callers, whom she suspects to be police officers. These calls “clearly show that my concerns are not being addressed. seriously, that they are trying to intimidate me and just try to discourage me from continuing to make these complaints, ”she said.
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.