Lone Tree’s police department volunteers soon will add a new job to their list of responsibilities. The city council recently approved an ordinance authorizing them to issue citation to handicapped parking violators.
Police Chief Jeff Streeter said it’s an efficient way to handle an exasperating problem, one he became familiar with while working for the Lakewood Police Department.
“People that violate those handicapped zones have a big impact on those who are desperately in need of that kind of parking,” he said. “We need to keep those handicapped spots open for those that truly need them.”
The city’s police volunteers assist with a variety of duties, including recordkeeping, the citizens’ police academy and coyote management. About nine of them are authorized to support patrol officers; those individuals will be issuing parking citations.
Streeter plans a training session, with the goal of starting the service in time for the holiday shopping season. Volunteers will be limited to the city’s retail areas, including Park Meadows shopping center and the Entertainment District.
Volunteers wear a “soft” uniform of khaki pants, a white shirt and green jacket with the word “volunteer.”
Councilmembers supported the proposal, though some said they’re concerned about potential conflicts between volunteers and violators.
“Philosophically, I struggle with empowering one citizen to cite another citizen,” Kim Monson said. “Citations should be the responsibility of paid staff. Parking tickets can be an emotionally charged exchange, and I am also reticent to have a volunteer in such a situation.”
“I have confidence in our staff and our chief; I'm willing to give it a try,” Mayor Jim Gunning said. “If we never did anything new, we'd always be stuck."
Streeter doesn’t anticipate any problems.
“Our volunteers are capable,” he said. “I don’t see risk. Certainly that’s what we’re training for and going to mitigate.”
The fine for a handicapped parking violation is $110, and includes a $10 service fee.