Ask your average disgruntled Jay Street bike commuter, and they'll likely have a story or two about recent encounters with placard corruption—when city workers take advantage of their right to park in no-parking zones, bike lanes included. The phenomenon, tirelessly documented by Twitter user @placardabuse, shows cops don't need a cover to enjoy roadway privileges. This week, though, an Inside Edition investigation found that some cops are going to greater lengths to skirt traffic rules. The outlet discovered more than 100 NYPD officer-owned vehicles parked around the city with illegal plastic license plate covers.
The subtle covers don't obscure the plate at eye level, but obscure it completely at an angle. Speeding and toll cameras only capture a blur. Most were found parked around 1 Police Plaza, with others parked around precinct headquarters and courthouses.
Inside Edition reporter Lisa Guerrero confronted numerous cops in the course of her reporting. In one case, she compelled an officer to right his wrong:
Guerrero saw one car with obscured front and rear plates and a placard on the dashboard showing the owner was with the New York City Police Department. She waited for him to return and approached him as he neared his car.
"Is this your car?" she asked.
"Yes," he responded.
"Can you tell me why you have illegal cover on your license plate?" she asked, but he turned away.
He said he would remove the plate covers so Guerrero offered him a screwdriver and he took them off in front of our cameras.
Responding to the allegations, NYPD brass admitted that the plastic covers are a known internal issue. While the department didn't immediately respond to our request for comment, spokesman J. Peter Donald told Inside Edition that, "This is an issue the Department has been aware of and is working to address."
"The Department has instructed precinct commanders to ensure officers in their commands are complying with traffic laws and internal guidelines on license plate covers," he added. "Just this week, there were several spot inspections in lower Manhattan to ensure personal vehicles of police officers are following traffic laws."
Beyond fines, the NY Post reports, offending officers could face docked vacation days.