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City Puts Falling Ticket Revenue Pressure On CPD

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Aug 17, 2010 2:00PM

Photo by sophisti-kate
Facing a $654 million budget hole and no longer able to pretend like we didn't totally get hosed on the disaster that was the Parking Meter Lease, the City is now turning up the heat on others to help fill the gap. This time around, according to a memo obtained by the Sun-Times, it's the Chicago Police Department and the number of parking tickets they're issuing. The memo doesn't explicitly tell the CPD to "WRITE MOR TICKETS PLZ" but it does put the onus of falling revenue on fewer tickets written, saying that if the drop in issued tickets continues, the city will "witness a dramatic decrease in annual revenues and not meet 2010 targets." While the private company hired by the company that's leasing the meters has stepped up its ticket writing game, it seems the number of tickets issued by the CPD has dropped compared to this time last year. The CPD issued around 850,000 tickets in July 2009 but in July 2010 only wrote 642,000 tickets.

Of course, this probably has something to do with the fact that the CPD is understaffed by up to 2,000 officers and trying its best to keep crime from escalating. Hell, if three of your coworkers had been killed in the last two months and you were dealing with a bungling boss you weren't very fond of, you'd probably prioritize your tasks, too. Indeed, Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue told the Sun-Times, "It sends the wrong message to the public as to what the real responsibilities of police officers are."

Meanwhile, the City's Revenue Department went on the defensive:

But Revenue Department spokesman Ed Walsh said his department has "no role regarding the Police Department's deployment or determination of duties for police officers." In 2009, the Police Department asked the Revenue Department to send it weekly reports about tickets and other data, he said. "This is nothing new," Walsh said.

Other police sources backed up the claim that there are no quotas or directives from the city to write a certain number of tickets. Still, it's a passive aggressive warning that smacks of City Hall passing the buck on to others when it was City Hall that got us into this budget mess in the first place.