On April 20th, the Madison Common Council voted to shift the responsibility for parking enforcement from the Madison Police Department to the city’s parking division. The decision came after multiple hours of debate focused on the tangible effects of such a change.
The measure scraped by with 11 alders, the minimum required to pass through the Council, voting in support. The decision came following several exchanges between alders and city staff trying to clarify what exactly would come with the new changes, and if the changes were significant enough at all.
Charles Myadze, who replaced incumbent Rebecca Kemble as alder for District 18, echoed a common question of whether this decision will address any real concerns about police control of civil services.
“I was just sitting here thinking about two things, a lot of people covered a lot, but two questions came to my mind: is this a political, symbolic move, or is there a problem that we’re trying to fix here?” Myadze said.
In a report surrounding this decision, parking enforcement officers expressed concerns with the operational changes that will come from the shift. Those concerns included uncertainty about physical workspaces, and safety concerns stemming from losing contact with police and community members due to the shift in locations for parking offices. The change will see offices moved from police stations in their respective districts to more centralized locations.
The change will likely come with additional costs, although the exact amount is not yet known. Some alders, arguing against the switch, cited the lack of information in the proposal.
Tom Lynch, Madison’s Director of Transportation and author of the report, stressed that the decision before the council was focused on principle, and that the specific changes in policy will be enacted based on what the council votes is best.
“There will always be open questions. As a major author of this report, we tried to do as good as we could, but there will always be open questions. I think what’s before the council right now is a policy decision of where you would like parking enforcement to reside,” Lynch said.
Following the April 20th decision, the city will see a slow transfer of resources from law enforcement to the parking division. Physical relocation of parking enforcement officers is not expected until 2023.
Photo courtesy of Caspar Rae on Unsplash