By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
An irate motorist smashed the front windshields of 10 vehicles parked near the NYPD Bronx tow pound on August 26. At least half of the damaged vehicles belong to NYPD traffic agents that Local 983 represents.
“I am flippin’ outraged. I don’t feel safe at work,” Faithlyn Manzano, an NYPD tow operator, posted on her social media page. “It took 45 minutes for police to respond from a precinct that’s just 10 blocks away! He circled the block and returned after the cops left. He came back with a brick and a bat and busted out side view mirrors and windshields. We were told not to hold him or try to defend our property or ourselves. There were eight of us but we were helpless, so he got away.”
Manzano added, “He threatened to return every day. I posted a video of him. What if he has a gun next time? How are we supposed to feel safe?”
“This one guy took his anger out on our members. These are the additional hazards– workplace violence and property damage– that these essential employees face because of the work they do,” said Joe Puleo, Local 983 President. Traffic Enforcement Agents Level III ticket and tow illegally parked vehicles. Their work lands them on the receiving end of scofflaws’ rage.
Some NYPD tow operators and staff have official NYPD parking placards in their vehicles, which can make them easy targets and vulnerable to attacks and vandalism, Puleo said. NYPD does not provide on-site parking. The tow operators park their personal vehicles on the street.
To protect members’ safety, Local 983 Vice President Marvin Robbins and Puleo pressed NYPD brass to allow TEA Level IIIs to park inside the Bronx tow pound. Additionally, the local helped members in good standing get assistance through the union’s Help Our Own Fund to cover repairs.
After a month, effective Sept. 27, The NYPD rescinded the agreement for on-site parking for Local 983 tow operators. On learning that tow operators must park on the street again, Manzano said, “I don’t feel safe at all.”
Puleo said the union has a pending labor-management meeting with NYPD.