When 24th Precinct NYPD officer Mark Kraljevic and his partner came to answer a call on West End Avenue and 101st Street at the height of the blizzard Saturday night, they discovered the issue at hand didn’t exactly have a state criminal code designation—assault with a snow blower. But not against a person. The “victim” was a car with one very livid owner who would only give his name as Josh.
Josh told the cops that he came by and saw a worker clearing the sidewalk in front of an apartment building. The walkway was wide and clear—the worker had done a great job. But for Josh, that came at the expense of his car. It seemed the man operating the snow blower was aiming all of it at his car. It looked like an avalanche had come to rest atop the vehicle.
“What does he want? The Rolls Royce of sidewalks?” Josh asked, throwing his hands up in frustration. “Usually people do a little pass so people can walk, but he’s clearing the whole thing and getting it on top of my car.” Josh pointed to his buried vehicle that his son was working to dig out. But he couldn’t go anywhere. Mayor Bill de Blasio had ordered all vehicles off the city’s streets.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he explained, but then incongruously added, “but I need to dig it out so I can go someplace. See that car right there?” He gestured toward the vehicle behind him. “It’s covered, but it’s not covered in extra. Imagine that, with four feet covered on top of my car from his snowplow. So you can understand why I’m a little bit peeved.”
Both officers seemed slightly chagrined by the nature of the call. Their job in that moment came down to mediating the dispute and not arresting anyone. Officer Kraljevic was more eager to talk about their bigger job that night.
“We’re patrolling the streets until about midnight to make sure people aren’t driving,” Kraljevic said. “If we see people on the road, we’ll stop them and ask them what they’re doing, let them know ‘You shouldn’t be here’ because, as the mayor said, they don’t want anybody out on the roads for safety reasons.”
DeBlasio’s travel ban included a threat of arrest for anyone caught driving on the streets. But Kraljevic said, “Theoretically, no one will get arrested. They get issued a summons.”
As he spoke, a civilian car brazenly whizzed past. Was he going to go after that driver to issue a summons?
“Well, we’re on this call,” Kraljevic said. “But we’ll keep an eye out to see if he turns back around.”
As the scofflaw “sped” away at perhaps 20 mph, Josh, now somewhat less angry, walked to his car and watched his son, a student at Bard College home for a visit, shovel away at the snow.
“I said you either help dig out this car or you don’t get to watch TV or use the WiFi,” Josh said. “It’s either the car or WiFi. Take your choice.”
“Not much of a choice,” the son sighed.
Over on Broadway, a police car rolled past blasting the song “In Summer” from the Disney movie Frozen, on its public speaker:
I’ll finally see a summer breeze blow away a winter storm
And find out what happens to solid water when it gets warm
These lyrics elicited laughter and waves from people carrying sleds, on their way back from Riverside Park.
The music came courtesy of NYPD officers Lindsay Merriweather and Nina Friberg, the only two women officers on duty from the 24th Precinct this night. Merriweather explained they were playing the snow-friendly songs because winter has finally arrived, and they’d like to bring some post-Christmas cheer to the New Yorkers out exploring the snow that didn’t come in December.
Other tunes on Merriweather’s playlist were a “Let It Snow” parody, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” and “Winter Wonderland.”
Those who braved the blizzard and ventured outdoors saw a lighter side of the NYPD on this snowy night. The public doesn’t often see that kind of levity exhibited by the department.
“They’re shocked by it at first, but then they’ll smile and laugh,” Merriweather told the Voice. “The community needs it.”