MEDINA — Medina police will soon turn their chalk into dust to fall in line with laws on enforcing parking violations.
Police departments are no longer allowed to draw chalk lines on vehicle tires to find parking violators. The 6th District Court of Appeals ruled in April that it was unconstitutional and in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
That led the Medina Police Department to ask City Council’s Finance Committee on Monday for a concept called digital chalk.
Committee members unanimously approved a handheld device, manufactured by United Public Safety, which will provide the department with a printer, camera and software package to replace the old chalk system.
“What it does is take a picture of the vehicle and you document where the valve stems are (on the tires),” police Chief Ed Kinney said.
He said the license plates, date and time are recorded.
“It sets a timer and in three hours, it notifies the parking attendant to come back,” Kinney said. “If (the vehicle) still is (parked in the same spot), it prints out a citation.”
Violators can pay the citation at a web portal.
“It’s managed by the company on the cloud,” he said. “It retains the photos and charges a processing fee.”
The city’s parking attendant, Bill Pavlick, also a trustee in York Township, works a maximum 29 hours per week. Revenue generated by the tickets partly covers the wages of the part-time position.
Kinney said the parking division issued about 1,700 parking tickets in 2018. The city charged $10 for each violation.
The new system will cost $8,513 the first year. Even with an estimated $17,000 in revenue the program runs a deficit that the police chief said he wants to address with implementation of the new system.
“My goal would be just to break even,” Kinney said.
Kinney said he would discuss raising the price of parking citations to possibly $15 or $20 in the future.
Council President John Coyne is concerned with the perception.
“What kind of message are we sending?” he asked. “Is it going to be viewed as heavy-handed?”
There could also be an escalating scale for repeat offenders.
Kinney said he’s not sure when the new equipment will arrive. The manufacturer is out of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or email@example.com.