Traffic agents want BWCs so NYPD, public can see abuse they endure
As they write parking tickets and direct traffic, traffic enforcement agents are regularly assaulted, screamed at and accused of writing bogus tickets, the union said
By Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
NEW YORK CITY — You have to see it to believe it, say New York City traffic enforcement agents who want body-worn cameras so their NYPD bosses and the public will understand the daily abuse they suffer from parking scofflaws and other miscreant motorists.
The union representing the city’s 2,500 traffic agents — who are part of the NYPD and write parking tickets and direct traffic — are asking in contract talks for the same type of body-worn cameras used by police officers.
“It is very important issue for our members’ safety,” said Sayed Rahim, president of the traffic enforcement agents’ union, Communication Workers of America Local 1182.
“The body camera is even more important than the bulletproof vest,” Rahim said.
As they make their rounds writing parking tickets and directing traffic, traffic enforcement agents are regularly assaulted, spat on, screamed at and accused of writing bogus tickets, said the union president.
Having a video recording of these encounters will be a game changer — it would create a record of any unscrupulous activity while the cameras itself could be a deterrent against motorists’ bad behavior, the union believes.
“Right now we have no proof of anything happening out in the street, and everybody is blaming our agents,” Rahim said. “If everything is recorded, we can prove who is at fault. It’s a very important issue for our members.”
Local 1182 is taking a different approach to body-worn cameras than that of the Police Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, which initially feared the scrutiny the cameras would bring.
When Mayor de Blasio’s administration first proposed cops wear body-worn cameras, the PBA opposed the move in court — but agreed in 2017 to drop the lawsuits and have their members outfitted for cameras as they negotiated an 11% pay raise with the city.
Attacks on traffic agents grew by 10% in 2022, when 43 city traffic agents were reported assaulted — up from the 39 reported assaulted in 2021, NYPD data shows.
Another 18 traffic agents were harassed by motorists, and three were robbed of their equipment, including their electronic ticket books, the data shows.
In July, a motorist ran down a traffic enforcement agent in Brooklyn with his Infiniti luxury car after the agent gave the driver’s friend a ticket, police said.
In November, also in Brooklyn, a man outraged about getting a ticket shoved a traffic agent to the ground and pummeled him, according to police.
Union members say clashes like these happen every day. Many of these incidents go unreported, they say.
One of the most egregious insults against city traffic enforcement agents was committed by FBI agent Kenneth Diu, who was accused of attacking an agent giving his Jeep a ticket while it was parked by a hydrant on a Queens street on April 18, 2022.
During the attack, Diu managed to void the ticket then handcuffed the agent just as the agent’s supervisor arrived at the scene. The FBI agent was charged with misdemeanor assault, tampering with public records, computer tampering and obstructing governmental administration, cops said.
Diu pleaded guilty in February and in April was sentenced to a conditional discharge, which means his punishment did not involve jail or probation.
During 2021, some 22 agents were assaulted by motorists, and 42 motorists tried to prevent the agents from leaving tickets on their cars, the statistics show.
Traffic enforcement agents are big revenue generators for the city. At the same time, agents are among the lowest-paid city employees. They get starting salaries of $41,493, which under their current contract can only rise to $47,874, documents show.
Local 1182 hopes that under the contract talks now underway, the city will agree to a new starting salary of $44,000 that will go up to $65,000 after seven years, union sources said.
“This job has dramatically evolved over the last 30 to 40 years,” Rahim said. “We’re not only writing summonses, but we’re responding to emergencies, like building collapses.
“We’ve become first responders, and since we wear police uniforms, we’ve become force multipliers to help the NYPD at major events like parades. But the city has failed to treat us differently, falling back on the old job description.”
An email to City Hall seeking comment was not immediately returned.
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