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Perry Challenges Crackdown On Dollar Van Drivers

By Thomas Tracy

Are area cops breaking the law in order to enforce the law? That’s the question that Flatbush Assemblymember Nick Perry raised last week as he found fault with the way cops from the 63rd Precinct handle the summons and seizure of dollar vans that pick up and drop off shoppers at Kings Plaza. Perry said that he had a heated phone conversation with Deputy Inspector Kevin McGinn, the commanding officer of the 63rd Precinct about the issue, which was brought to him from a group of disgruntled dollar van drivers. Charges have been raised that the double-parking summonses cops from the 63rd Precinct hand out before towing a dollar van are given several blocks away from where the alleged infraction took place. Perry said that several of the tickets that were brought to his attention state that the driver had been double-parked in front of an address near the corner of East 52nd Street and Avenue U. But, when he went to that particular address to investigate, he discovered that dollar vans summonsed under that address never made a drop-off nor idled in front of that address. “I had the occasion to witness what I believe is unlawful conduct,” said Perry, who said that on the day in January he followed cops from the 63rd Precinct as they pursued a van down Avenue U and along Flatbush Avenue to Hendrickson Street, where the van was pulled over. The driver, Perry said, received a ticket and had his van towed away. “After they [the police] left, I asked the driver to see the ticket and the ticket said that the van was observed double-parked in front of [an address near the corner of Avenue U and East 52nd Street]. I was at that spot all day and did not see the van double parked there.” “The ticket is fabricated,” Perry said. “They [the cops] are enforcing the law, but at the same time they’re breaking the law.” “When police do not enforce the law lawfully, it threatens everybody,” said Perry. “If the cops are making up parking tickets to seize the vans, what else are they going to make up?” The Assemblyman said that he called Deputy Inspector McGinn, the commanding officer of the 63rd Precinct, a few days later to alert him to the conduct, but McGinn gave him the “brush off.” “It wasn’t a diplomatic exchange,” said Perry. “I attempted to bring to his attention what I found to be unlawful conduct by his officers engaged in aggressive enforcement and he didn’t seem to take my complaint seriously.” McGinn refuted Perry’s allegations, claiming that everything his officers do is above reproach and by the book. When Perry called McGinn, the legislator was yelling at him, he said. The Deputy Inspector said that his officers treat their dollar van enforcement as a Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit would cover a drug-prone corner: officers hang out at a secret location near the corner, mark when the van drops off and picks up people and then radios a roving unit that pulls the van over and summonses the driver. The van driver could be pulled over and summonsed several hours after they were seen double-parked in front of the address, police said. Over the years, residents living near Kings Plaza have long complained that van operators leave their vehicles idling on side streets, double-park, race down residential blocks and disturb the quality of life by littering and even urinating in public. Since the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Avenue U – where Kings Plaza sits — is the only main egress to Mill Island, Bergen Beach and parts of Mill Basin, residents become frustrated when they find dollar vans either clogging up a lane of traffic or zipping in and out of traffic as they pick up passengers, residents complain. Perry said that he has asked dollar van drivers to let him look out the tickets they receive to see if there are any “unlawful conduct” correlations. State Senator Carl Kruger, who believes that cops from the 63rd Precinct are not doing enough to curb the area’s dollar van problem described Perry’s allegations as a “gross exaggeration.” “They [the police] are not breaking the law and the facts that dollar van drivers are terrifying the neighborhood is undisputed. The complaints of all the confrontations between van drivers and the community are not groundless.” “[Assemblyman Perry] should be trying to get the law enforced rather than ask the police department to turn their backs on these violations.”

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