Report: Fewer CPD tickets hurt revenue

August 17, 2010 (CHICAGO)

A memo from the city to Chicago police has some drivers concerned that more parking tickets could be issued.

The mayor says the city is not pressuring officers to write more tickets, but the police union says the memo is tantamount to a wink and a nudge to raise their numbers.

At the Central Hearing Facility in River North where parking tickets are contested ABC7 found plenty of frustrated drivers.

"I sort of feel like a lot of policemen are writing tickets because they're pressured. You know, they're pressured to put up a quota," said Tom Ashcroft, motorist.

But, in fact, ticket-writing by Chicago police is down significantly, according to a City Hall memo obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The paper says the August 10th report to police warns that the nearly 25 percent drop in ticket-writing could cause the city to "witness a dramatic decrease in annual revenues and not meet 2010 targets."

The Department of Revenue, which issued the memo, told the Sun-Times it was merely sharing information requested by police. But the union representing officers says it sends a message that police need to hit a quota.

"The four-letter 'Q' word, yes. It's something that could lead people to misperceive what their real duties are," said Mark Donahue, president, Fraternal Order of Police.

On Tuesday, the mayor agreed and insisted the city is not pressuring officers. He suggested the memo was ill-advised.

"Stupid. It's stupid," said Daley.

The drop in police ticket-writing comes as an increasing number of private meter enforcers are hitting the streets hired by the company that leased Chicago's parking meters in 2008.

That move, says retired Chicago police officer Rich Jurek, is squeezing cops out of their traditional ticket-writing role.

"When they start taking enforcement away from the police officers on the street, the beat men, and turn it over to somebody else, then that's less opportunity for the city to write those tickets that were written before," said Jurek.

In fact, records show ticket-writing by private firms is on the rise, which may be why hundreds of drivers still flock to the central hearing facility every day.

"You can't park anywhere. As soon as you park, it's like they're waiting for you," said Johnnie Davis, motorist.

That memo says police wrote the most tickets in the city's near north area with officers in the Wentworth District near U.S. Cellular Field issuing the fewest.

The police union says fewer tickets are written in higher-crime areas because officers are busy chasing more serious offenses.

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