Upcoming Council Vote Will Impact Parking Enforcement Unit

by Safety Connection

The Madison Common Council will soon be deciding the fate of 31 Parking Enforcement Officers and the future of the program.

This is a true example of “defunding the police” and shows that it’s not just about reallocating funds to invest in front-end issues. It’s about moving funding out of the police department for any reason at all, even reasons that make no sense.

Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) applied to work for the Madison Police Department, and they have for years. They are distributed throughout the city at the six district stations, where their vehicles are securely stored and they have access to the buildings for meetings with MPD officers and staff and are provided lockers and work space that fits their needs.

This is a concept that started in 2019, and ended up shifting most of the PEO funding out of MPD and into Parking Utility. Now, the PEOs, vehicles, equipment, and duties are expected to follow.

It makes no logical sense. It will cost the city more money and remove many benefits and even roles from these employees. They will be centralized out of two downtown buildings that do not currently have space for their vehicles or workspace for them.

They will lose access to the police stations as well as much of the technology that ties them to the police department. They will lose the ability to use radio channels, such as MPD’s tactical channels, that keep them abreast of current incidents in live time.

Parking Enforcers would not have full access to databases and records, like LERMS and DOJ databases, which they rely on now. The Parking Division would join the New World Consortium, similar to Parks and Public Health, to get information from this system. Because it would be separate from MPD, they lose technology specific to law enforcement. But PEOs deal with law enforcement all the time, it’s what they do.

Parking Enforcers would continue to have authority to issue citations and tow for parking violations. They also would be able to ticket for ADA parking violations, and enforce scofflaws and impound vehicles.

Parking Enforcers would no longer be able to perform law enforcement-related activities (identification, stolen autos, wanted vehicles, missing persons, etc). Parking Enforcers would need to contact the police for follow up on these and other issues.

Parking Enforcers would no longer be able to perform Disabled Fraud Investigations since they are considered a moving violation. They could enlist a Madison Police Officer to assist with this citation.

This move will add workload to MPD and cost the city more money. It does nothing to help the front- end issues that defunders say is at the heart of the movement. Employees will lose significant perks, among them access to MPD and the logos and badge that give their law enforcement work a sense of authority and protection. Their vehicles and uniforms will need rebranding and the city will need to purchase new licensing and registration for software and technical support now provided through MPD.

PEOs have been verbally opposing this move at city meetings, but it has not been enough to stop the votes of the defund the police alders. Alder Shiva Bidar referred to this move as “low-hanging fruit” in accomplishing their objective. It passed the Finance Committee on a 4-3 vote, supported by the mayor.

The report, which should be titled, “100 Reasons Why This is a Bad Idea But We’re Doing It Anyway” can be found here.

The Common Council will be taking up this issue after the spring election on April 6, along with many other issues that will affect our police department. Please vote! Know where your alder candidates stand on these issues. Comment below or message us if you’d like some perspective to consider. Vote, either now through an absentee ballot or at the polls on April 6. And stay tuned for opportunities to speak into this important issue for our PEOs!

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