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Traffic Agents seeing red over uniform color change

Published: March 30, 2015

Publication: NY Post

By Carl Campanile

The NYPD plans to replace the department-blue uniforms used by some of its traffic enforcement agents — a move that has provoked a firestorm of opposition from workers who claim the distinctive new duds will imperil their safety, The Post has learned.

“They’re talking about giving us a green color shirt and jacket, green baseball cap and black pants. We’ll look like the Joker!” said Shajahan Mohammed, the Manhattan delegate for Local 1182, the agents’ union. “These uniforms will make the job more dangerous for workers. Right now, people think we are law enforcement.”

There are two types of traffic enforcement agents: those who perform traffic patrols at intersections and those who issue tickets for parking violations.

Agents used to wear brown uniforms — earning them the nickname “Brownies” — but after they were incorporated into the NYPD in 1996, they were issued blue uniforms that include a patch identifying them as members of the police force.

But unlike police officers, the 3,000 traffic agents do not carry weapons.

Agents argue that wearing blue reduces assaults against their members because the public treats the uniform with more respect, and road-ragers are more wary of assaulting someone associated with law enforcement, or who looks like a cop.

The distinctive brown uniforms singled them out for more abuse and attacks from irate motorists, agents noted.

The NYPD told The Post it is considering providing different colored uniforms for the agents guiding traffic, but not for parking enforcement agents.

A police spokesman said the intention is to bolster the safety of the agents controlling traffic.

NYPD traffic brass informed the agents of the proposed switch in uniforms during recent roll call meetings.

In response, Local 1182 has dispatched a petition and letter to both Police Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio urging them to scuttle the uniform change.

“Traffic agents will always experience some level of abuse while performing their duties, but our current uniforms served as a deterrent to those who would have had a free pass to abuse the agents as they did under [the Department of Transportation] when the uniform color was brown,” the union petition said.

“Taking away our blue NYPD uniforms will not keep us safe,” it reads.

“It will only derail the little respect that we have received for being part of the NYPD.”

Union brass are calling for “a roundtable discussion” rather than a rushed decision to make over the wardrobe.

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