New York Mayor de Blasio faces flap over caravan speeding video
By Jonathan Lemire and Tom Hays, AP
February 23, 2014, 12:06 am TWN
NEW YORK--Mayor Bill de Blasio faced more questions Friday about why his official vehicles were videotaped breaking traffic laws only two days after he rolled out a sweeping traffic safety plan.
The mayor was in the front passenger seat of the lead SUV of a two-vehicle caravan on Thursday that was captured on video speeding, running through a pair of stop signs and not signaling when changing lanes. The footage, which aired on WCBS-TV, was taken as de Blasio returned to City Hall after a news conference in Queens.
De Blasio deferred to the New York Police Department when met by reporters Friday morning on his way to the gym. The mayor's cars are typically driven by members of his security detail, made up of NYPD detectives.
“The NYPD provides security protocol for the drivers. Talk to them about that,” he said.
After his weekly meeting with the mayor on Friday, Police Commissioner William Bratton downplayed the video, saying that the drivers have special training to make decisions based on security needs and won't face any questioning.
“I'm not overly concerned by what I saw,” Bratton said.
Asked if the mayor can tell his drivers to slow down, the commissioner responded, “He could raise it, but the security concerns would override any of his concerns.”
De Blasio cited Bratton's comments later Friday, saying, “Commissioner Bratton addressed the topic of my security detail earlier today. I am very comfortable with what Commissioner Bratton said and I refer you to his comments.”
Despite having said earlier that he would address the apparent speeding, De Blasio refused to answer reporters' shouted questions about the matter.
The video emerged two days after de Blasio released the “Vision Zero” plan, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities. The plan proposed reducing the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph, installing more red light and speed enforcement cameras, detailing more NYPD officers to enforce speeding violations and toughening penalties for speeding.
“We're very serious about 'Vision Zero,' de Blasio said. “We're going to keep moving forward with it.”