City cops crack down on parking
Andrew Fillipponi dislikes parking tickets. He doesn’t like the idea of them, doesn’t like getting them and, well, he doesn’t pay them.
Fillipponi, who has gotten five or six tickets during the past year, said he will get around to paying them someday.
‘I would assume that eventually I’m gonna pay them, but it’s not at the top of my list of priorities,’ said Fillipponi, a senior broadcast journalism major.
However, Fillipponi may have to move parking tickets up to the top of his priorities sooner than he anticipated.
Starting Jan. 28, the Syracuse Police Department will start patrolling the university area and putting one of their 40 boots on any vehicle with three or more outstanding parking tickets.
The boot, an official said, acts as a clamp to keep a wheel locked. It can be released after the tickets are paid by entering the given digital code.
Lieutenant Joe Sweeny, head officer of the operation, said police will drive a van equipped with two cameras attached to each side of the vehicle at license plate level.
The cameras connect to a computer that processes every license number it scans, inspecting for any outstanding parking tickets.
The department will begin to boot cars in downtown Syracuse the week before it begins to patrol the university area, Sweeny said. He expects to find a number of violations once the department begins its patrols near the university. The program will continue indefinitely.
‘We know there are quite a few cars up in the area that are bootable,’ Sweeny said.
Sweeny and another officer drove the van around the university area to distribute warnings to cars in violation Monday. Sweeny said they issued quite a few.
‘In a five block area (we found) 16 cars and were only out for an hour,’ he said.
Students may mistakenly think they are only at risk if they are parked illegally when the van drives by, Sweeny said. Any vehicle with three or more tickets parked legally or not, will be booted.
Those parked illegally at the time, Sweeny said, will endure harsher punishments.
‘If you park on Ackerman and park on the wrong side of the street, you may wake up to find a ticket and a boot on your car,’ he said.
Fillipponi, holder of several outstanding parking tickets, said the police department’s actions are unfair to students.
‘Let’s face facts here. Parking at this campus is terrible,’ he said. ‘I think that it seems the Syracuse police are trying to exploit the situation.’
While the Syracuse police are offering students additional warnings and time to pay off the fees before their cars are booted, students will pay substantially more than just the ticket cost if the car is booted.
PayLock, the company that provides the police department with the booting technology, charge a $50 fee on top of the fine. If the outstanding tickets total more than $750 dollars, Sweeny said the car would automatically be impounded, adding at least another $100. PayLock also receives a 16 percent commission from the city.
Sweeny said the threat of being booted has already created results.
‘In the last two weeks, the city has received a substantial amount of payments that it was not getting before,’ he said. More than $200,000 has been paid since Jan 1.
Outstanding parking fines in the city currently add up to more than five million dollars, but results so far are impressive, Sweeny said.
‘Two hundred is a lot more than they received in the last quarter of last year,’ he said.
Syracuse University wants students to know it is not involved in the crackdown at all.
SU’s parking service patrols university property and South Campus, outside the range of city police. Al Sauer, director of parking services, said they generally issue 10,000 tickets and tow 30 cars each year.
Fillipponi, who lives on Euclid Avenue, said during the winter he could not park in his driveway and had to use the street, which is how he received two of his tickets.
‘Can you give me a break?’ he said. ‘It’s 15 degrees outside, there are three inches of snow on my car. It’s three hours late. Cut me a break. I don’t feel like I’m in the wrong. I don’t feel like I’ve committed any egregious crime.’
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