Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner O'Neill Join Forces with Law Enforcement Leaders and Legislators to Urge Governor Cuomo to Sign Legislation to Protect Law Enforcement and Take Illegal Vehicles Off the Road

November 22, 2016

Legislation would require the testing of window tint density at annual safety and emissions inspections

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, NYPD Sergeant Herman Yan and Tatyana Timoshenko – mother of Sgt. Yan’s fallen partner, Detective Russel Timoshenko – today joined forces with law enforcement leaders and legislators outside the David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building to urge Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to sign legislation that would protect New York police officers by taking illegal vehicles off the road due to excessive window tint.

“Law enforcement officers face increased danger every time they pull over a vehicle and are unable to view the interior. There is no justification for sacrificing officer safety in order for vehicle owners and manufacturers to apply what is a cosmetic detail to vehicles operated on the roadways of the State. This bill would protect law enforcement officers from the unnecessary risk of walking into unexpected and dangerous situations,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I stand with the Timoshenko family and law enforcement throughout the State in urging the Governor to sign this bill.”

“This legislation is about making cops safe. It’s about helping cops do their job. I’m calling on the Governor to pass this bill, immediately. To veto this legislation would be a direct assault on cops and the safety of law enforcement officers across the state,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill.

The tragic death of Detective Russel Timoshenko in 2007 brought a new focus on the unacceptable danger presented to law enforcement officers by motor vehicles bearing illegal levels of window tint. Police Officer Timoshenko and his partner, Sergeant Herman Yan, were shot in the course of conducting a routine traffic stop. The officers faced especially grave danger because of the excessive tint on the vehicle’s windows, preventing them from being able to see into the vehicle.

It is currently illegal for a vehicle to be operated on New York State roads in violation of light transmittance standards as provided in Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 375(12-a). The proposed legislation would amend Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 301(c)(1)(a) to include light transmittance of a vehicle’s windows as part of the yearly motor vehicle safety inspection. The bill is sponsored by State Senator John DeFrancisco and Assembly Member Michael DenDekker. It has passed both houses. The bill was delivered to the Governor on November 16 and action is due by midnight on Monday, November 28.

Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 375(12-a) requires a minimum of 70 percent light transmittance on front windshields, on front seat side windows and on rear side windows of station wagons, sedans, hardtops, coupes, hatchbacks and convertibles. However, this crucial safety feature is not currently included in the annual safety and emissions inspections vehicles are subjected to pursuant to the Vehicle and Traffic Law. This bill provides a proactive method to ensure compliance with existing law by adding light transmittance standards to the list of safety features provided in State law, in order to address and curtail the proliferation of blacked-out windows in a routine and predictable fashion.

Should this bill become law, vehicle inspection centers would be required to purchase an inexpensive device which is readily available in retail markets to calibrate the tint density and perform the requisite testing. These devices generally retail for between $100-$150 and are already owned and operated by many auto body shops throughout the State. If the glass on a vehicle is found to be tinted beyond 30 percent of light transmittance, that vehicle would not pass the New York State safety inspection. In this instance, the window tint would have to be removed or altered before it could be re-inspected for compliance.

The NYPD performs over one million car stops annually and issues approximately 65,000-70,000 tinted windows summonses per year. These numbers underscore the potential danger that police officers may encounter with every car stop they perform, and they provide the justification for the enactment of this common-sense measure to protect our police officers.

“Police Officers put their lives on the line every day to keep New Yorkers safe. This legislation would go a long way toward providing police officers with the protection and security we deserve while conducting vehicle stops, especially at night,” said NYPD Sergeant Herman Yan.

“Today I urge Governor Cuomo to think of the safety of our police officers and of all New Yorkers and sign this bill into law. Windows with too dark a tint obstruct a driver’s view and prevent motorists from being able to properly see pedestrians, cyclists or even other vehicles. Tinted windows also hamper law enforcement officers’ ability to observe any potentially illegal activity within a car. We have seen tragic fatalities, both intentional and accidental, as a result of tinted windows. This is a matter of public safety, and I stand here today with Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O’Neill and our police unions to ask Governor Cuomo to sign the tinted windows bill,” said Assembly Member Michael DenDekker.

State Senator Marty Golden, a former New York City Police Officer, said, "Every time law enforcement officers stop a vehicle they are approaching a potential dangerous situation. To allow vehicles to have tinted windows that obscures the view of the interior is unacceptable and jeopardizes the safety of our officers. An immediate assessment of a threat and quick decision is imperative for a safe resolution. This bill would help to reduce the risks to our law enforcement officers while conducting a potentially dangerous vehicular stop."

"Car Stops have always been a dangerous situation for police officers to get involved in. In the present day with the many acts of violence against officers and the constant threat of terrorism, cops are on high alert so the timing of this bill is very good. Giving cops a clearer view and a clearer picture of what is going on inside a vehicle will make it safer for both the cops and the occupants,” said Michael Palladino, President of the Detectives’ Endowment Association and New York State Association of PBA’s. “On Behalf of the 5,500 active NYPD detectives and the thousands of hard working men and women of law enforcement throughout New York State, I strongly encourage Governor Cuomo to sign this bill into law."

“Car stops are one of the most dangerous actions our Officers perform on a regular basis. No car stop is routine, and each stop puts our officers’ personal safety in jeopardy. We in the law enforcement community always welcome and support any legislation that enhances the safety of our officers,” said Louis Turco, President of the Lieutenants’ Benevolent Association.

"Vehicle stops are among the most dangerous situations that police officers face on a regular basis, and excessively-tinted windows only amplify that danger. As the murder of Police Officer Russel Timoshenko tragically demonstrated, a police officer's ability to see inside of a stopped vehicle can be a matter of life and death,” said Patrick J. Lynch, President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “We urge Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation to protect all of the women and men who keep New Yorkers safe."

"The police conference of New York supports this bill because it will allow police officers to assess potential threats to their safety. We hope the governor endorses this measure,” said Richard Wells, President of the Police Conference of New York.

“As police officers perform this vital service they face uncertainty and vulnerability with each roadside stop. Heavily tinted windows can increase those feelings. The motorist being stopped is also likely experiencing stress. Anxiety felt by both can lead to a negative encounter which is something neither desires. A clear view of a vehicles interior and occupants can go a long way in improving safety and reducing tension on these necessary, yet uncomfortable interactions between police officer and citizen,” said David Zack, President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and Chief of Police for the Cheektowaga Police Department.

"Unsafe vehicle tinting can be a danger to the operator and to the general public as visibility is hindered, especially at night or during inclement weather. Additionally, law enforcement personnel are at a heightened risk level when approaching tinted vehicles at roadside stops as eye contact cannot be made with vehicle occupants. Having window tint checked as part of vehicle inspections is in the state's interest to protect the health and safety of its citizens, and we urge the Governor to approve the legislation," said Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director of the NYS Association of Counties.

"Approaching an unknown occupied vehicle is extremely dangerous for law enforcement officials, and much more so when the approaching officer is unable to see into the interior of the vehicle," said Peter A. Baynes, Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Mayors. "This bill, by ensuring better enforcement of existing window tinting limits, would provide life-saving protection to the tens of thousands of police officers employed by city and village governments throughout New York State. NYCOM urges Governor Cuomo to sign this bill into law."

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