Crown Heights

Tinted window checkpoints in Crown Heights: Racial profiling or good policing?

July 22, 2014 By Matthew Taub Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn Brief
Police conducted a checkpoint for tinted windows Monday on Franklin Avenue
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A crackdown on tinted windows in Crown Heights was received with a mix of skepticism, helplessness and begrudging understanding.

Police narrowed the roadway on Franklin Avenue just a few blocks south of Eastern Parkway at around 7 p.m. Monday evening, asking each driver to roll up his or her windows so officers could view their relative translucency. The officers were polite and respectful, but vehicles, including bus traffic, were significantly backed up as a result of the operation.

Ade, who grew up at the very intersection where the checkpoint was taking place, had his doubts.

“They come here because they know they’ll find the infraction,” Ade said, “but at the same time, you won’t see this in Bergen Beach. You won’t see it in Bay Ridge.”

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New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law requires a “light transmittance” of 70 percent for vehicle windows, the highest required light transmittance in the nation, shared with California and Pennsylvania. A petition in 2011 to reform the law claimed that “drivers are more likely to develop and are at increased risk of developing skin cancer on the left sides of their bodies” and that “the law has been used as a ‘money maker’ for counties [that] encourage overzealous strict enforcement.” 

Police claim they are merely enforcing existing law — the violation of which creates risks for police performing their duties, since they cannot ascertain who is behind a motor vehicle, and pedestrians and bicyclists on the roadway, since the motorist often cannot see these individuals as well — and that infractions often lead to searches yielding evidence of additional crimes.


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