PITTSFIELD -- An ideal parking control policy would include a new fine structure, more standardization of enforcement procedures and greater sharing of data among city departments, Police Chief Michael J. Wynn told the Police Advisory Committee on Monday.
A subcommittee of the citizen advisory group is reviewing the existing city fine structure, which the chief has said needs upgrading to become more effective in combating parking and traffic violations. The group is expected to recommend changes to the mayor and City Council.
One needed change, Wynn has said, is to increase some fines, which he said are too low to be effective as a deterrent.
Police Lt. Kate O'Brien, who attended the meeting, said that in some parking situations the fee for overtime parking is waived once in each calendar year, then only rises to $3 and $5 for the next two violations.
Wynn said having both civilian parking enforcement employees and police issue parking tickets -- and a lack of direct access by police to data on violations handled by civilian employees -- also can create confusion.
"We should try to standardize and [should] eliminate the first offense [waiver]," said Ward 4 City Councilor and Traffic Commission member Christopher Connell, who attended the session. "That would be the best and simplest way."
"There are just too many variables," Wynn said, referring to different time limits for parking in different downtown lots and similar parking issues.
Connell said the subcommittee's review of the fine structure "would be a good start. Everyone is basically concerned about parking issues in the downtown."
He said many approaches to deal with parking and traffic violations have been a Band-Aid approach that allows for different parking time limits and other discrepancies.
One parking situation that has become more standardized in recent years is enforcement of the ban on overnight street parking, which O'Brien said police begin enforcing with $25 tickets in December, following an informational campaign.
Wynn said the lieutenant was instrumental in establishing more uniform enforcement of the ban on street parking, along with the educational efforts, including flyers placed on auto windshields. The ban is in effect on city streets from midnight to 7 a.m., primariliy to facilitate snow plowing or other emergency responses.
The 11-member advisory committee also reviewed its proposed formal charter, specifying such details as the number of committee members, how decisions are voted on, how committee officers are chosen and the creation of subcommittees and rules of procedure.
The draft document was referred to the city solicitor's office for review.
Also, Wynn reported that more than 50 resumes were received for the new position of crime analyst, which is a civilian position in the department. The person will gather data from police reports from the PPD and other agencies and any other related information and compile reports for use by patrol officers, detectives and others.
To reach Jim Therrien:
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On Twitter: @BE_therrien