NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)— Two New York City police officers ran into some unexpected trouble when they pulled over a vehicle carrying one of the city’s more powerful officials, schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
Walcott was a few blocks from his Queens home just before midnight Thursday when his city-owned vehicle was pulled over by plain-clothed officers in an anti-crime unit. Walcott was a passenger.
The chancellor’s spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz, said the driver hadn’t done anything wrong, and Walcott spoke up.
“When Chancellor Walcott asked the officers to please tell him why they had been pulled over, the officer responded that they had failed to use a turn signal,” she told the New York Post. “Chancellor Walcott told the officers that this was incorrect as he heard the turn signal.”
After Walcott identified himself, the officers ran a license check and let the vehicle go without writing a ticket.
“There was no traffic violation, and at no time did Chancellor Walcott ask that any ticket be waived,” Ravitz told The AP in an email. She said Walcott asked one officer for her badge number, but neither she nor the other officer identified themselves.
The Post said Walcott later complained to the police commissioner.
A department spokesman, Sgt. Carlos Nieves, said the internal affairs bureau is reviewing the incident.
Like other police departments, the NYPD has been criticized over the years by black motorists who have complained about being stopped for minor or nonexistent violations. In 2008, a white officer was disciplined by the department after he unknowingly confronted a black motorist parked on the street who turned out to be a high-ranking NYPD commander.
Walcott, a former deputy mayor who worked with the police department in the 1990s on improving community relations, is black.
Asked whether Walcott believed race was a factor, Ravitz declined to comment. She also declined to disclose the driver’s name, saying he had done nothing wrong.
“NYC has the best police force in the world, and Chancellor Walcott has a long history of working with the NYPD and respects that the police were there to protect the neighborhood,” she said.
Walcott took over after former chancellor Cathie Black resigned on April 7.
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