Borough Park

TLC backs down after impounding Boro Park volunteer driver’s vehicle

Outrage From Drivers, Residents, Local Politicians Prompted Reversal

June 2, 2014 By Matthew Taub Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn Brief
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Borough Park “Chesed” drivers and local politicians were outraged when Taxi & Limousine Officials pulled over one of the company’s volunteer drivers en route transporting cancer patients to a hospital this morning, issuing several tickets and even impounding the vehicle.

The story first broke on Yeshiva World News:

A volunteer of the Chesed Organization, which has been giving sick people rides to hospitals for years, had his vehicle impounded by the TLC Police. For those of you unaware, the Chesed Organization has hundreds of volunteers who simply drive sick people to doctors or hospitals. Thousands of sick people are driven to doctors and hospitals every year by this incredible organization.

The volunteer picked up two women around 8:30 Monday morning, one at 18th Avenue and 50th Street, and one at Ft Hamilton Parkway and 53rd Street, and began driving to Manhattan. One woman was going to NYU Hospital, and the other to Cornell Hospital. One of them is a cancer patient.

They were driving along, when suddenly they were pulled over on McDonald Avenue by the TLC Police, who ordered them out of the car. The driver was issued a handful of summonses, and the vehicle was impounded. To make this story even more outrageous, the driver called Misaskim for assistance, who tells YWN that the officer wrote on the ticket that he had spoken to both passengers before they entered the vehicle, and they had even told him the fare amount they would be paying. This is an outright lie, as both women have never before seen this TLC Police Officer, nor have ever communicated with anyone at the TLC in their lives. Additionally, not one penny is ever collected or charged by these dedicated volunteers. They were simply stopped because the officer saw a Chasidic male driver, with two females in the backseat, which may seem as if it was a car service – with the vehicle not properly having TLC Plates.

Word of the incident quickly spread in the community, and local politicians became involved.

Councilman David G. Greenfield and Senator Simcha Felder blasted the Commission in a press release.

“Clearly this TLC officer had an agenda – to impound cars and collect fines and fees,” said Council Member David C. Greenfield. “It’s astonishing that any law enforcement official can be so callous as to leave two sick patients stranded on the way to the hospital. I am calling for a full investigation of this officer’s history and for the TLC to review the policies and procedures these officers must follow.”

“Despite the honest explanation by the volunteer driver that no money had been exchanged, the overzealous TLC agent proceeded with the unwarranted punishment,” said Senator Simcha Felder. “Our community knows unequivocally that Chesed provides their service free of charge, their drivers volunteer their own time and the service Chesed provides is incredibly beneficial to so many. I demand that the TLC dismisses the fine, returns the car and apologizes to Chesed.”

Later in the day, the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) reversed course:

As Yeshiva World News reported back in January, the TLC has stepped up its patrols in Borough Park, searching for illegal and unlicensed car services.

Brooklyn Brief will follow the story and provide any updates.

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