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Students watch Boston cops flout parking laws

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  April 2, 2009 01:09 PM

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Boston police illegal parkingA Boston police cruiser was parked yesterday in a space reserved for MBTA buses. (Emily K. Williams/Globe Photo)

A team of Northeastern University journalism students have reported the unthinkable in today's Globe: Boston's finest parking their cruisers and personal cars in handicapped spaces, blocking exit lanes and bus stops, and halting traffic - all right outside police headquarters.

The best official excuse was that many officers need these spaces "because they keep their riot gear in their cars." I always keep a lint roller in mine, you know, just in case there's a sticky situation on Beacon Street.

This all comes three months after Governor Deval Patrick signed a state law raising the fine for parking at MBTA bus stops to $100. In February, the Globe reported how city councilors had been graciously giving up their parking immunity - granted to them under a special ticket dismissal program - ever since Michael Ross was fined by the ethics commission for not paying $1,000 worth of personal fines.

Read more about the Northeastern students report and the lukewarm responses from police officials here.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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29 comments so far...
  1. Dear Northeastern students who wrote this article,
    As a fellow NU student, I know that you come from a well-educated background. I would like to think you are knowledgeable about world events, and that you have the drive and motivation to pursure issues that matter.

    Well, news flash, this one doesn't. Who cares where Boston cops park their vehicles, one should care that they can respond to any emergency in which urgent assistace is needed. Stories like this, in which you post pictures of law enforcement vehicles, easily making them targets for those looking for revenge, is just stupid. Please do better. Such minor stories are an embarassment to the Northeastern community, as we are a group of individuals who are worldly, knowledgeable, and ready to take on the MAJOR issues. Please do better next time.

    Posted by KP April 2, 09 02:17 PM
  1. I think it's good that someone reports on abuses by the police even if it’s as little as parking where you’re not permitted! The sign does not say parking for municipal workers, it says parking for the bus. Being someone who has gotten many tickets for not getting to a "legal" parking space in time to put a quarter in it, I applaud this expose on city workers not obeying the laws they put forth. Nobody is above the law! I would also like to see some reporting on police just sitting in there cars collecting big money in overtime for construction/traffic detail. I am sick of fronting the bill for this and find it a waste of my tax dollars. Why couldn't we have city workers trained to do this take the place of police officers who could be knocking down the doors of suspected criminals. Maybe even a stronger Police presence in those neighborhoods that need it most.

    Posted by SP April 2, 09 02:46 PM
  1. Dear KP
    The law says the cops are not allowed to park there unless they are actively responding to an emergency situation.

    Cops do not make laws, cops are subject to the laws, and cops must obey the laws.

    Why do you hate democracy and the rule of law so much?

    Posted by Infoferret April 2, 09 02:58 PM
  1. KP

    Stop posting on while you're on detail. Actually, there have been plenty of cases where tireless officers worked multiple details in the same time in different towns - now that's heroic.

    Cops are not above the law - they are just refusing to apply the law when it comes to their buddies.

    Today they do not enforce parking for their friend... what will they refuse to enforce tomorrow ?

    Posted by HBX April 2, 09 03:25 PM
  1. I disagree. By blocking handicapped spaces, exsir lanes and bus stops, they are contributing to an already chaotic traffic mess. THIS is what will halt emergency & urgent assistance. Don't set the example - be the example.

    Posted by bostonchic2009 April 2, 09 03:27 PM
  1. KP your very wrong, very wrong ! This has nothing to do with NU, its just that they violate more near their headquarters. All police officers should be held to abide by the laws that they themselves enforce. The officers who break these parking laws should feel ashamed of themselves, taking up handicap spaces, that are designated for the handicap and elderly. THIS IS WRONG, obey the LAW, YOUR NOT ABOVE THE LAW..Those officers should be made example of, and forced to pay all the violations that they receive from their own pocket !!

    Officers are citizens too, lets treat them just like the BTD treats US !!!!! Officers in Boston need to set the right example, they need to park legally just like the Citizens are forced to ...PERIOD !!!!

    Posted by BTD hater April 2, 09 05:42 PM
  1. Dear SP, Infoferret, HBX, bostonchic2009, and BTD hater,

    I could not have said it any better. Still, I will add just a thought or two. I believe there is a cliche that reads something like the following: "It is the little things that say a lot about a person's character." What does it say about a particular policeman/woman's character, if he/she is unwilling to abide by the most basic of laws.... This sense of entitlement some people have must end, as it can be very detrimental to our society, in general. I hope you now agree, KP.


    Posted by TMC April 2, 09 07:12 PM
  1. I'm with KP on this one. This seems like a silly story for an 'Investigative Journalism' class. There are far more serious issues facing us than parking scofflaws. I for one could care less if the police cars were double parked six-deep at the bus stop, so long as when I call 911 with an emergency, they get there quick!

    Posted by Care April 2, 09 09:24 PM
  1. As a disabled person, I'd like to say that stories like this make me think less of police.

    Anytime you'd like to have my disability, let me know. In the meantime, leave me my parking spots and cub cuts.

    Most of you could do with the walk anyways.

    Posted by quis custodiet ipsos custodes? April 2, 09 11:33 PM
  1. Police park illegally? This is news? I see it all the time. ALL THE TIME. And not anywhere NEAR their headquarters. Handicapped spots. Bus stops. Clearly marked No Parking or No Standing zones. Last week, I saw one cruiser double-parked in the South End, right in the Silver Line lane, with one partner in the passenger seat while the other one picked up a sandwich ... and it was double-parked behind ANOTHER double-parker.

    I have tons of respect for what the police and fire departments do for us, and obviously not all officers do this. But don't try to justify their breaking of laws that they would other ticket us for.

    Posted by crooner April 3, 09 06:40 AM
  1. KP is an officer.

    Posted by bosox April 3, 09 08:10 AM
  1. My goodness, KP, your argument is an embarassment to your own intelligence. It matters when improperly parked police cruisers are taking away parking spaces from the handicapped. (Or do you feel that it's OK to make it harder for the handicapped community to report crimes, serve as witnesses in lineups, etc.?) It matters when improperly parked police cruisers are posing a traffic hazard. It matters when the bus has to stop in the middle of the street to pick up and drop off passengers.

    There is, obviously, value in ensuring that police officers have access to their cruisers. Determining a safe location for officers to park should be a priority. It should not, however, be left up to the individual officers to park whereever they damn well please.

    And-they certainly should not be parking personal vehicles illegally. There is zero excuse for this. They aren't acting as law enforcement officers when they get to work and leave work. They need to figure out a parking arrangement for work just like the rest of us. Instead of parking to block the exit of that $350 per month garage, they can pay the $350 for a space like any other worker in the area. Free passes for illegal parking of personal cars may be the last form of gratuity for police. Over time, we've stopped allowing police officers to receive free tickets, free meals, and the like because of concerns of bias, impropriety, and corruption. It's high time that we stop allowing personal cars to illegally park as well.

    Lastly, "Stories like this, in which you post pictures of law enforcement vehicles, easily making them targets for those looking for revenge, is just stupid."? What a load of tripe. There is one single picture. It's of a Boston police cruiser parked illegally. They didn't post a picture of a personal car or anything-it's an official police cruiser. A MARKED police cruiser. Are you somehow arguing that there is some miscreant, intent on attacking or damaging the vehicle, who now knows what a marked police vehicle like and didn't before? The car is marked! It says Boston Police on the sides and back and has lights on top. It doesn't exactly blend in on it's own.

    Posted by JS April 3, 09 09:47 AM
  1. I just don't get it. Cops get attacked by all of you haters. I understand that it's their job but you don't know half of the crap that they have to deal with. The stuff that doesn't make it to The gang bangers,the HIV infested hookers on Blue Hill Ave, the domestics....arresting a guy who beat his gf only to go back the next day and do it all over again. Who cares where they park?? I certainly don't.....I wouldn't bite that hand that feeds me, or protects me. I think we have more important things to worry about. At least I do.

    Posted by Realist April 3, 09 09:57 AM
  1. ahh the police....the ultimate form of do as I say not as I do. shows how much character these "hero's" have. And before someone who has a cop as a brother or cousin goes off on me true heros are selfless and motivated to help people because its the right thing to do. Not because they get a paycheck at the end of the week. There are definately honorable cops but for the most part its the power that attracts them and this is a blatent example of it. The more devious things are kept quiet. How many of these hero's would be on the street helping if there wasnt a check involved???

    Posted by KN April 3, 09 10:33 AM
  1. Apples and oranges. Would you show up to work every day if you weren't getting paid? I sense some bitterness. Did someone fail the police test or could you just not hack it in the academy?
    Law enforcement isn't for everyone. It's not like cops go home and forget about the stuff they encountered that day/night. It weighs on them heavily. This isn't a pity party. I just don't see what the big deal is. I think they deserve some slack. They are the first people you call when there's an emergency yet they are the first people to get bagged on. Just doesn;'t make sense to me.

    Posted by Annoyed April 3, 09 10:51 AM
  1. Look how fat the cops are, they need HP plates. I have seen some so overweight that Jenny Craige should have a warrent out for them.
    The others work so much overtime and details check out , they are to exhausted to do the job they were hired for. These people who say details get the police on the street. When was the last time you saw a detail not on their cell phone, talking to the workers with their back turned or sitting in their car sleeping.
    They are stealing our tax dollars

    Posted by grampian April 3, 09 11:14 AM
  1. KP, Cut these students some slack! How dare you call them an embarassment to Northeastern just because you disagreed with the story (I'm not a Northeastern grad, by the way). Were you perfect when you started college? The last time I checked people went to college to "learn." These students are LEARNING how to be good journalists and this is an excellent story for a class to look into.
    Are there other things to be investigated in Boston and the world? Yes. And I have no doubt that as these students grow as journalists, they will investigate them. Everyone has to start somewhere. As a Northeastern grad you should be excited that fellow students had a real world opportunity to work with the Globe on something like this. There are tons of other great journalism schools in the Boston area (some which are ranked higher than Northeastern) and these students were lucky enough to participate in a thoughtful, interesting story. Way to go Northeastern journalism students and thank you to the Globe for working with them! We need more newspapers to continue to take an active role in careers of young journalists.

    Posted by JL April 3, 09 01:22 PM
  1. SP, civilian flaggers have replaced many police details. I'm sure you have another anti-police argument to replace it with though.
    And shouldn't "investigative journalists" report on "problems" people haven't already known about for years?
    People love to wait for the next police related story to show up on so they can bash. Maybe we should experiment with gettnig rid of police all together, or have you police haters take a crack at the job instead of sitting at your computers commenting on issues you really know nothing about.

    Posted by KC April 3, 09 01:30 PM
  1. I live in Quincy and see it all the time. The T cops are the worst they park in one of two bus stops and go into either Brothers Roast Beef or Peking Kitchen all the time. The best was after one of the big snow storms and a elderly woman had to go out in the street to board a bus because it could not get close to the curb. Have badge and gun law does not apply to them we all know it.

    Posted by rjg April 3, 09 01:41 PM
  1. KP,

    This is a great story! Don't discredit the story because you don't agree with its view. You sound like another Democrat. Your probably a cop who has this ENTITLEMENT complex. You never really accomplished any thing but you think your a hero. Which is funny because the heroic thing for you to do would be quit your job and let a real hero go in there and do the job the way it was meant to be. Proud to say who you are but not nearly as proud of your annual review NEEDS IMPROVEMENT!!!! I feel sorry for people like you. fasdyou better start doing a better hj

    Posted by BA April 3, 09 01:50 PM
  1. This is just typical of our Boston Police. A BP officer lives in the same building as I do, and has at times parked directly in front of a fire hydrant on our street overnight and I can't even tell you the times he has driven himself home drunk off his keester barely even able to walk up the stairs. I almost trust Bernie Madoff more than I would trust a cop. They become cops because they get hard wearing the uniform and don't have the intelligence to get a job that pays similar money. We pay our officers more than any other city in the country. Most people I know have zero respect for any policy officer.

    Posted by Jammin April 3, 09 02:38 PM
  1. People, face it. Cops have been, and will always be "above the law". It will never change. You can not find one cop that has not abused his job as being a cop. They speed to Dunkin Donuts, they park where they want, sleep in their cars at night, go through red lights etc. Yes, I have seen cops do all of the above. Nobody will stop them. The politicians won't because then they won't get special care. And if you try to talk to them peacefully, they pull the tough guy routine on you and threaten to arrest you for disorderly conduct (yes, that has happened to me too). Cops only care about themselves and each other. We are on our own folks.

    Posted by Ace April 3, 09 02:54 PM
  1. Cops should leed through example as any person with character would. Anything else is just hypocrisy. Cops should be shown courtesy and respect but to say we should allow them to bend the law when they see fit is just rediculous. Who gets to decide how much slack they are given anyhow? Other cops?!?!?!? Can anyone else see where this is going?
    Slack..Read the law applies to everyone else and not us. Annoyed you can change the symantes of it but the reality doesnt change. Methinks "annoyed" is a cop. Many people have jobs that are a constant weight on them and many many people do dangerous jobs for the sake of society as a whole. Cops made there choice to do the job they do no one forced them so stop with the pity party please. I appreciate the how tough there job is to do but to say they should be above the law is rediculous. The law is useless when we start making exceptions and it just breeds further contempt. It starts with parking then they think they can get away with anything like I dont know peeing on someone at a concert(matalica boston) maybe??? Or ripping a diabetic man out of a car (vermont) cause they are so full of rage that someone wouldnt stop for them. Go ahead give them some more slack. I wonder how much slack you would be willing to give them if it was someone in your family they mistreated in the name of the law. What if it was someone from your family in a ambulance rushing to the hospital sitting in traffic caused by a bus waiting for a cop to move who is in getting a sandwhich. Bet your opinion would change quickly.

    Posted by KN April 3, 09 03:12 PM
  1. reponse for KC

    I do not think my response was about police hating/bashing or being anti-police, as much as it is about allocating our tax dollars to something more beneficial for our city. Getting rid of the Police is not was I was getting at either, but to merely put the police into a better position with the community and making our streets safer. Your ignorance to a solution and taking a backseat to issues happening around you tells me you might be running for public office. .

    Posted by SP April 3, 09 03:44 PM
  1. KP is not an officer, he's just smart. Since when has it been an issue where cops park ? I can bet that more than half of the civilians park illegaly, or maybe most of the ones that posted a comment in this section, or who knows, maybe even the journalism students had to double park to take pictures of the cruisers parked illegaly, why isn't anyone complaining about them ? Maybe when there's a shooting or any type of emergency where all of these officers are responding to help you out they should just keep driving around the block until they find a spot and park legally. "NORTEASTERN UNIVERSITY JOURNALISM STUDENTS" Journalism Students ?!?! Really ?!?! So the unemployment rate is rising rapidly, and people are losing their homes, but yet the priority for these journalism students is a Boston Police cruiser parked illegally, wow, and these students are consider "AMERICA"S FUTURE" no wonder why our nation is suffering, because we now worry more about illegal parking, rather than the major problems affecting this nation.

    Posted by JR April 3, 09 03:53 PM
  1. KP, what are these major issues? World peace?

    Posted by Mike April 3, 09 04:03 PM
  1. I am certainly not a BPD officer - nor any kind of police officer for that matter! Those who wrote this article should take some of what I said as a COMPLIMENT. As a Northeastern alum, all I am saying is I know how talented the Northeastern community is. At the university level, don't they have bigger, more challenging, insightful issues to report on? We all already know about the parking issue. It seems that there was a lack of effort on their parts considering BPD headquarters is a stone's throw away from campus. Find something new, interesting, and challenging to report on - not attack those who on a daily basis risk their lives to save yours. Once they do, I'm sure they will undoubtably receive my praise.

    Posted by KP April 3, 09 04:35 PM
  1. Oh good grief...why don't YOU try being a beat cop and deal with all that you have seen? Lay off of them already! Not everyone violates everything. And hey, you're not pissed because you've parked in the wrong place, just that you've been CAUGHT doing it.

    Posted by vulcanarcher April 3, 09 04:40 PM
  1. I'm gonna have to go with KP on this one. We just killed over a million innocent civilians (the biggest holocaust since WWII) in a country that had no WMD and wasn't part of 9/11. Every newspaper in the world ran stories and photos of the victims except for every single newspaper and TV channel in the United States where we had a near total news blackout.

    After WWII the people of Germany were busy asking themselves how the hell they let it happen. Not where their cops were parking.

    Posted by Scott April 4, 09 12:44 AM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
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Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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