Op-Ed: Who Traffic Enforcement Agents Really Are, and Why They Must Remain Part of the NYPD

Originally printed in the Gotham Gazette, June 19, 2020  |  

bob master traffic

On Thursday, June 11, hundreds of New York City Traffic Enforcement Agents and Supervisors stopped work for eight minutes and 46 seconds to commemorate the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Employed by the NYPD, these members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) were participating in a nationwide CWA job action to support the massive protests sweeping the country on behalf of racial justice and an end to police violence.

Is it surprising that these NYPD employees staged a job action for racial justice? If you knew who they were, it wouldn’t be. CWA represents approximately 2,800 agents and 400 supervisors who work in New York City Traffic Enforcement. Over 95% of them are people of color—primarily immigrants from Bangladesh and Africa, and Latinos and African-Americans.  Traffic agents are extremely low-paid: their salaries start at just over $41,000 and top out at $50,000 after 10 years on the job. What’s worse, on average, 100 agents each year are physically assaulted by members of the public angered by a parking ticket or a disagreement at an intersection. The verbal insults—many of them racial slurs—are too numerous to count.

That is why it is especially disappointing to see these workers targeted, even inadvertently, by the leaders of two organizations we normally consider allies, in a recent column in this publication advocating the removal of traffic enforcement from the NYPD.

Read the full piece here.