Metro

NYPD can’t stop traffic deaths, so turns cops into counselors

Faced with mounting deaths and evidence police have turned a blind eye to traffic violations, the NYPD’s streets czar Tuesday could offer no fix beyond saying cops are now turning into bereavement counselors for the victims’ families.

The NYPD’s Chief of Transportation, Kim Royster, said NYPD officers are now offering “bereavement” folders filled with advice on Surrogate’s Court and other death-related matters when she and Mayor Bill de Blasio were grilled by The Post over allegations cops are inappropriately nixing illegal parking and traffic complaints — as traffic deaths surged to the highest level in recent years.

The questions came as she sat beside de Blasio, who announced Tuesday the NYPD would increase traffic enforcement as earlier fall sunsets make driving more dangerous.

“One of the things that we’ve definitely focused on is that we’ve partnered with our advocates to come up with a bereavement resource folder for those families that have lost their loved ones due to fatalities that have occurred in the city,” said Royster.

An NYPD officer inspects a damaged motorcycle part of a fatal accident at 163 street and 35 Avenue, Queens on October 22, 2021.
An NYPD officer inspects a damaged motorcycle part of a fatal accident at 163 street and 35 Avenue, Queens on October 22, 2021.
Peter Gerber

“We go personally to the family and speak with them about what’s occurred, letting them know that this is going to be investigated,” telling reporters that roughly 70 of these files have been distributed.

“This particular bereavement resource folder actually has information that will help the families move forward; help them move forward if they have questions about surrogate court, about the accident report that’s completed, the investigation,” she added.

The growing questions about enforcement come as city records revealed that Gotham just closed out one of the deadliest 12-month periods on city streets since 2014, with 275 traffic-related deaths from July 1, 2020 through June 30.

A fatal accident at 163 street and 35 avenue in Queens.
NYPD Transportation Chief Kim Royster says traffic officers are now focusing on communicating to “families that have lost their loved ones” due to car crashes.
Peter Gerber

The number of deaths surged as enforcement over the same time period fell 57 percent from prepandemic levels — and as a slew of reports from the City Council and news organizations raised significant questions about the enforcement that cops currently claim to be providing:

  • A recent City Council investigation revealed that the NYPD nixed complaints filed by probers without ever dispatching cops to the scene;
  • Streetsblog crunched city data and found that thousands of illegal parking complaints filed in recent years were closed in less than 5 minutes — two minutes quicker than NYPD’s 7 minute average just to get to a scene;
  • The Post learned that three sets of precincts patrolling Central Harlem and Midtown and Cobble Hill and Gowanus were responsible for the bulk of the improbably fast closures;

Those examinations came as the NYPD disclosed in the annual Mayor’s Management Report that the number of traffic summons it issued amid the surge in deadly collisions had dropped by more than half when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

NYPD officers investigate a fatal motorcycle accident at 163 street and 35 Avenue, Queens on October 22, 2021.
NYPD’s Chief of Transportation, Kim Royster, insists that the “bereavement resource folder” will help families keep track of investigations into fatal traffic accidents.
Peter Gerber

“Any time a complaint is not followed up on properly, that’s unacceptable, there will be consequences; any time that we miss an opportunity, I don’t accept that and we have to do better,” de Blasio said, reiterating his calls for an investigation into the press reports, before defending Royce’s bereavement folders.

“I also want to say the notion that, god forbid, someone’s lost, there’s an attempt to help that family, I think that’s humane and decent,” he added.

NYPD officers investigate a fatal motorcycle accident at 163 street and 35 Avenue, Queens on October 22, 2021.
A city record of 275 traffic-related deaths occurred from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
Peter Gerber

The NYPD did not immediately respond to questions about the status of the probe promised by Hizzoner.


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