Madison Common Council Votes to Move Parking Enforcement Officers to Parking Utility

by Safety Connection

At the April 20th Common Council meeting, Madison Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) shared how being moved to Parking Utility from the Madison Police Department would make their jobs less efficient and less safe. Some alders appeared to have read the report and asked good questions.

The only rationale for the move that we heard from alders was that it’s part of “re-imagining public safety.”

But others, including the sponsors of the resolution–Alder Keith Furman and Alder Grant Foster—were unable to provide information about any benefits to the city, the residents, or these city employees by transferring PEOs to Parking Utility. Instead they urged their colleagues to remember their commitment to “re-imagining public safety” and taking what doesn’t need to be under the police department out from the police department.

But if we are “re-imagining public safety” why are we are we removing unarmed civilian public servants from a process that works efficiently? Is it just because they are associated with the Madison Police Department? The new mental health response unit will also have to work hand in hand with the Madison Police Department (especially since statutorily only a law enforcement officer can take someone into protective custody). Should we then “re-imagine” that program before it even gets off the ground?

Ultimately, the council voted to transfer parking enforcement duties out of the Madison Police Department to the nearly bankrupt Parking Utility by 2023. The PEOs, who will be most affected by this move, are justifiably disappointed. And taxpayers will bear the brunt of the costs to make this mostly-symbolic move at time when city funds are tight.

Direct Impact to Public Safety

One concept that appeared to escape many of the alders is that with this move, Parking Enforcement officers will no longer have the same access to MPD radio channels and records. We can thank PEOs for helping to recover many of the stolen autos that thieves drive recklessly on city streets and then abandon later when they crash into something or the vehicles run out of gas. Sometimes PEOs are able to spot these vehicles moving in traffic and make immediate reports to MPD. Not having access to the same information and communications channels as MPD may impact the number of stolen autos recovered in the future.

How the Alders Voted

Voted NO (in favor of keeping Parking Enforcement Officers under the Madison Police Department):

Barbara Harrington-McKinney
Sheri Carter
Syed Abbas (new Common Council president)
Christian Albouras
Brian Bedford (new, but returning alder)
Mike Verveer
Charles Myadze (new alder)
Gary Halverson (new alder)

Voted YES ( in support of the move to Parking Utility):

Grant Foster (sponsor)
Keith Furman (sponsor)
Tag Evers
Nikki Conklin (new alder)
Jael Currie (new alder)
Juliana Bennett (new alder)
Yannette Figueroa-Cole (new alder)
Lindsay Lemmer
Arvina Martin (new Common Council vice president)
Patrick Heck
Regina Vidaver (new alder)

Alder Wehelie was excused and absent.

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