New York Daily News

May 28, 2003

Kick in the pants for a mom-to-be

Gets $50 summons for sitting in subway



Not even a pregnant woman can catch a break from the city's ticket blitz.

When a cop came across Crystal Rivera grabbing a breather in a subway stairwell recently, the female officer didn't offer help or even a warning.

Instead, she tagged Rivera - who is six months pregnant - with a $50 summons for blocking a stairwell.

"I told her, 'I'm pregnant, my back hurts and I'm tired,'" said Rivera, a senior at Fort Hamilton High School. "And she was like, 'Well, you can't sit there.'"

The next thing Rivera knew, she was being handed the summons.

"How hard would it have been for her to say, 'Can you please get up?'" Rivera said. "There was no reason for her to give me a ticket."

The incident happened May 20, when Rivera, 18, was trying to catch a ride home from school at the 86th St. subway station in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

She plopped down on the steps because the station benches were filthy. It was an expensive flop.

The cop later told Rivera that she warned her to get up from the top of the platform stairs.

But Rivera said there was no warning. And when the pregnant woman goes to court to fight the summons, she said she'll bring several witnesses who will testify they never heard a warning, either.

Despite strenuous denials from Mayor Bloomberg and his aides, police union leaders are grumbling that cops are being pressured to churn out money-making summonses.

"[In the past], they've always had discretion to deal with these matters in ways that solved the problem but didn't necessarily extract money from the pocket of the person affected," said Al O'Leary, a spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

But now cops are being told to enforce existing laws, O'Leary said, even when "common sense dictates ... sometimes you handle it with a warning."

Started with a milk crate

Last week, the Daily News reported the tale of a Bronx man busted for sitting on a milk crate. Since then, readers have supplied plenty of painful examples of silly summonses. The tales of woe continued yesterday:

A Manhattan woman was ticketed for using outdated blue recycling bags to throw away her trash.

A New Jersey man was cited for his car's loose passenger mirror.

A Brooklyn man was fined for having an oven in front of his building. "There was nothing in front of my house at all, unless you count some tulips or some trees," said Russell Ryan, 69, of Park Slope.

Police officials said the furor over the summons blitz is being stoked by the PBA, whose officers are up for election this year.

Bloomberg said people shouldn't blame cops or City Hall.

"Look, the City Council passes laws, it is the Police Department's job to enforce them, and we will continue to do that," the billionaire mayor said yesterday. "If the public doesn't like particular laws, I suggest they call the City Council and talk to them."

He also brushed off the possibility of New Yorkers getting frustrated over the rash of summonses.

"I don't think there is much hostility in the public," he said. "There [are] some headlines in the paper."

There could also be less in the bank account of Rivera, who vowed to appeal.

"It's not right," she said. "It's obvious that I'm pregnant and I'm tired, so I sat down.