Driving a car in New York City does not meet the definition of “fun.” The simple act of finding a place to park can consume hours. And when motorists see traffic-control officers breaking the same rules they are paid to enforce, it can send them over the edge.
Meet “Jimmy Justice,” one of those frustrated motorists.
But instead of railing against fate, he decided to do something about it. Taking camcorder in hand, he’s compiled nearly 30 hours of video — most of it accompanied by his own highly indignant commentary — of traffic enforcement officers parking in front of fire hydrants while going for lunch, making illegal U-turns, and breaking every other traffic rule in the city.
“The traffic cops in New York City are especially mean-spirited and very aggressive,” the 36-year-old video vigilante told TODAY’s David Gregory.
“Although they’re doing their jobs, they go over their bounds a lot. What hurts a lot more than getting a ticket — especially if you didn’t deserve a ticket — is watching the same person who gave you a ticket go and commit the same violation with their official vehicle. That’s just wrong. The whole goal of traffic enforcement is to increase safety in the city for pedestrians and motorists.”
No mask, but no name either
Like a comic-book superhero, he won’t part with his real name.
“I’m not a superhero in the same vein as Superman or Batman,” he said, “but if you want to call me a superhero, so be it.”
Keeping his real identity secret is, he said, is a matter of self-defense
“I think there will definitely be reprisal attacks against me by different city agencies that I’m embarrassing by showing the public the truth,” he said.
Gregory asked Jimmy how he can be sure the officials he tapes are not on official police business.
“It’s pretty obvious if they park blocking a fire hydrant and then walk into a restaurant and then stand on line ordering their lunch,” he said. “That’s not doing their job, that’s ordering lunch. We’re not allowed to block a fire hydrant — it’s a matter of safety. What’s the difference if it’s my vehicle blocking a fire pump or the vehicle of a traffic enforcement agent?”
He accompanies his videos with often vitriolic exchanges with the officers he’s recording, telling them they should be ashamed of themselves and asking why they’re breaking the same laws they’re supposed to be enforcing.
He doesn’t deny that he can be obnoxious.
“When I act this way on my video, I’m really channeling some actual traffic enforcement agents that I have encountered in my life. I’m kind of giving them their own medicine,” he said. "The same way they treat civilians in a very obnoxious and mean-spirited way, I go after them in the same way.”
But, asked Gregory, “don’t they have a job to do that’s not always pleasant?”
“You’re right,” Jimmy Justice replied. “They have an important job to do, but when they do something wrong, they have to be held accountable.”
He said he initially tried to register his complaints through official channels, mailing and phoning the offices of the mayor and police commissioner. “The complaints have not been answered,” he said. “So I had no other method of recourse. I had to bring it to YouTube and bring it to the people what life is like in the city for the average man who has to live in the city.”
It should not be a surprise that with so many hours of tape, Jimmy Justice is trying to package a show for television.
“We want to call it ‘Civilians,’” he said. “It’s going to be like the anti-C.O.P.S.”