June 27, 2009
For years the City of Woodstock, through its police department, has been blind to certain parking violations, such as the one shown in this photograph. Parking on the "parkway" (in the right-of-way - between the street and the sidewalk) is illegal. Vehicles at 931 Clay Street are frequently parked in this manner.
Although the law has existed for years in the City Code, has it been routinely enforced? Even when a resident complains about a given location, enforcement is not even. An officer might pay a visit on the offending property owner, who probably assures the officer that "it won't happen again." And then the next day or night it does.
If the resident doesn't complain about recurring violations, that's the end of it.
It should not be necessary for the resident to become the "policeman" or to have to nag the police department. The officers should know the City Code, and they should enforce it. When they spot cars on the parkway or blocking sidewalks, make one contact with the property owner. Explain the law. Write a warning ticket. Next time? Issue a citation. And the next time? Issue another citation. Sometimes, that's all that people understand.
Could it be that officers are told not to enforce some laws, because "residents might get mad at the police department"? If residents are going to get mad at someone, they should get mad at the City Council. The P.D. is only the agent of the City in enforcing the laws.
Enforcement should be even across all areas of the City. Low-income residents should not be targeted. Wealthy residents should not be ignored.
Repeat offenders should be dealt with promptly.
Police Chief Lowen referred to the "broken window" theory, when he first arrived in Woodstock. It's a solid theory. You address and fix small problems, and then they don't become big problems.
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