May 23, 2017
By Steven Wishnia
New York, NY – Ninety-six traffic enforcement agents formally moved up from Level I to Level II May 19, in a ceremony at the Police Academy complex in College Point, Queens.
In full-dress uniform with brilliantly shined shoes, white gloves, and white caps—except for two Sikh men in white NYPD-issue turbans—the newly promoted agents filled the center section of a seventh-floor auditorium at the academy before marching down to receive their certificates from Deputy Chief Michael Pilecki and get a handshake of congratulations from Communications Workers of America Local 1182 President Syed Rahim. A few dozen family members sat on one side, and a few dozen fellow officers sat on the other.
“You’re being recognized for the great job that you do,” Pilecki, commanding officer of the Traffic Enforcement Unit, told the agents. “In the subfreezing cold, in the oppressive heat of New York City summers.”
“Your job is essential when it comes to moving traffic,” he added, and the agents then joined him in reciting the mottos they were taught in training: “Move traffic, reduce collisions. Move traffic, protect pedestrians. Move traffic, save lives. Move traffic, move traffic, move traffic.”
“I’m happy, of course,” agent Brenda Lopez said.
The newly promoted agents will receive step increases in their pay on the anniversary of their promotion, a gain won in the contract Local 1182 members ratified in February 2016. The 7¾-year agreement, which expires in December, also raised the maximum salary for Level II agents from $36,000 to $43,200.
The promotion means that the agents will go from mainly giving out parking-violation summonses to directing traffic at intersections, Pilecki explained. All agents receive intersection training at the academy before they go on the job, and they are generally moved up to Level II soon after they finish their one-year probationary period.
Traffic agents are also critical to the city’s response to emergencies, Pilecki added, as they handle creating entry, egress, and hospital-access routes at the scene. The promotion ceremony, he noted, came the day after a “crazed lunatic” drove the wrong way up Seventh Avenue in Times Square and plowed into pedestrians, killing one person and injuring 22.
Traffic agent Elfaki Abdul Majid helped tackle the driver, Richard Rojas, after his car crashed and he tried to run away. Rojas knocked him down, but Abdul Majid got up and chased him, grabbing him and holding him for police with the help of several other people.
Abdul Majid deserves more credit for helping apprehend Rojas than he’s gotten, Local 1182 delegate at-large Azizur Rahman told LaborPress, because “he was the one who had the first interaction” with the suspect.