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04-02-09, 10:24 PM #1
Police officer assigned to ticket other officers who park in handicap spaces and other tow zones finds 20 violations in six weeks.
In February, when the Globe detailed widespread parking violations by officers outside the Boston police headquarters, department officials vowed a swift and certain crackdown. The violations, including the routine use of handicapped-designated parking, were deemed "unacceptable."
By last week, the department seemed a little more accepting. The crackdown had yet to come. In fact, Elaine Driscoll, department spokeswoman, declared the problem to be "chronic."
Since mid-February, the illegal parking has continued unabated and largely unsanctioned. Department employees regularly leave their private cars and unmarked police vehicles in 11 spaces marked for the handicapped and in other tow zones outside the Tremont Street headquarters, according to periodic observations by Globe correspondents. The Globe saw no evidence that violators are being ticketed.
Not so, Driscoll said. For weeks now, she said, a police officer has been assigned daily to write tickets at headquarters.
But from mid-February to last week, just 20 were written, Driscoll said.
On one March day alone, there were 25 vehicles illegally parked in spots marked as a tow zone in front of headquarters.
Late yesterday, there were another 25 cars parked illegally outside headquarters. That included four in spots reserved for the handicapped, one blocking a hydrant, and two parked in the MBTA bus stop.
The practice extends beyond headquarters to many precinct houses:
In East Boston, officers park their personal cars or police cruisers in two MBTA bus stops across the street from one another outside the district station on narrow Meridian Street, according to reporters' observations over several days. When buses stop, so does traffic.
Near the downtown district station on New Sudbury Street at Government Center, many Boston police officers park their private cars wherever they please, including, one day last week, next to four fire hydrants within a stone's throw of the station.
Top city officials were reluctant to take a position on the situation.
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis declined to be interviewed. Mayor Thomas M. Menino, approached by a reporter, refused to answer any questions. Dot Joyce, the mayor's spokeswoman, said the city does not condone illegal parking by police officers and expects the Police Department to get its officers to obey traffic regulations.
But Joyce said: "The number one priority for police officers is fighting crime. Writing tickets is not their number one job priority."
Added Driscoll: "We could have an officer write tickets all day long. But that's not the most efficient use of his time."
Myra Berloff, director of the Massachusetts Office on Disability, said in an interview that she was saddened to learn that police have done little since February to solve the problem, especially the illegal use of parking spots set aside for the handicapped.
"Simply saying they're out fighting crime doesn't give them carte blanche to break the law," Berloff said.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the Transportation Department's 190 traffic enforcement officers, who write tickets for a living, are barred from venturing near police stations. Last week, Transportation Commissioner Thomas J. Tinlin insisted anew that the police are responsible for solving what Tinlin called their "curbside management" problem.
Curbside at police headquarters, not much has changed. In February, the Globe reported that after nearly two months of regular visits scores of officers entering and leaving the headquarters every day paid no heed to department scofflaws who parked in the 11 handicapped-designated spots, as well as spaces reserved for MBTA buses or posted as tow zones because of hydrants and crosswalks. Some parked on sidewalks. Every now and then, a car would have a ticket on the windshield, placed there by the car's owner to signal immunity from real ticketing.
The day Driscoll said the illegal parking would be stopped, there were six cars illegally parked in spaces designated for the handicapped.
Over the course of 12 days in late February and March, Globe reporters observed 50 vehicles parked illegally in spots marked for the handicapped, some of them repeat violators. None had been ticketed. In other designated tow zones, the violations have continued.
That comes as no surprise to Jeffrey W. Conley, executive director of the Boston Finance Commission, a state-appointed watchdog agency. Boston police officers, Conley said, know they are immune from parking tickets no matter where they go in Boston.
"Even if they are out for dinner," he said, "they put their ticket books or other police identifiers on car dashboards, and they know they won't be ticketed."
Conley added: "Maybe it's time for Commissioner Davis to put his foot down and insist that his own officers obey traffic laws."
At the downtown station, the department appears to have enabled illegal parking, issuing 200 blue windshield stickers labeled Alpha-1 to officers so they can park their private autos under signs that read, "Tow Zone. Reserved for permitted police vehicles only." The personal autos of officers, Police Superintendent Daniel Linskey said, are considered "permitted police vehicles."
There are no more than 50 such parking spots, leaving many other officers to park by hydrants, in handicapped spots, on corners, and under signs that read, "Tow Zone. No Parking. Reserved for Boston Police marked A-1 cruisers."
With private cars jammed into spots reserved for cruisers, the officers driving the cruisers often double park outside the station. So do some police officers who cannot find anywhere else to put their personal cars.
Each time Globe reporters visited the downtown station, there was an officer's personal auto parked in an angled spot that partially blocks an exit lane from the adjacent Government Center Parking Garage, where civilians who commute by car pay $350 a month.
Linskey, who heads the Bureau of Field Services, said he has met with all the area commanders and ordered them to crack down on illegal parking.
As for East Boston, he said he contacted the commander and ordered that officers cease using the MBTA stops.
He said that many of the officers who have free parking downtown need to have spaces because they keep their riot gear in their cars.
Linskey said, however, that he will not condone police officers parking at hydrants and the like. To help, Linskey asked members of the public who see "outlandish" cases of illegal parking by police officers to call his office at 617-343-4300.
04-02-09, 10:42 PM #2
That would be a fun assignment.When I used to be somebody (I'm center top)
"A burning desire for social justice is never a substitute for knowing what you're talking about". -Thomas Sowell-
04-02-09, 10:45 PM #3
What a load of crap.
We are exempt here from any parking regulations "in the performance of our duties." So as long as you are there to do your job you can park anywhere.
The PD should get the signs replaced with "Police Parking Only All Others Towed" or something....
Somebody needs to go to the Globe and hammer the shit out of every parking and moving violation for 6 surrounding blocks.That which does not kill me, better start fucking running.
If I lived every day like it was my last, the body count would be staggering.
I intend to go in harm's way. -John Paul Jones
Hunt the wolf, and bring light to the dark places that others fear to go. LT COL Dave Grossman
I'd be a better people person if I was around better people.
04-02-09, 11:01 PM #4
I feel bad for the Officer who got assigned that task.Calm Like A Bomb...
“A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
04-02-09, 11:05 PM #5
Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat
"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway
The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com
04-02-09, 11:09 PM #6
Choose The Right. When you're doing whats right, then you have nothing to worry about.
Not a LEO
In memory of Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson 1965 - 2005. Ceres Police Dept.
In memory of Robert N. Panos 1955 - 2008 Ceres Police Dept.
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