Scofflaws Can't Hide In The Ticket Thicket

Tiny Computers Tally Outstanding

September 26, 1990|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

As if they weren't efficient enough already.

The dreaded Annapolis parking enforcement division has armed its meter maids, once described by former Mayor Dennis M. Callahan as "attack meter maids," with portable computers that within two weeks will be able to tell them about every city parking ticket you've never paid.

And if you have three or more tickets outstanding, your car is likely to end up in the impound lot the next time it's left unattended by an expired meter.

"They're the most aggressive, most efficient people in town. They should be running the place," said Lee Troutner, who yesterday was one of the first city residents to receive a ticket under the new system. The new tickets are red and white.

Five of Annapolis' 10 meter maids will be outfitted each day with the hand-held modular computers. Each comes with a micro-printer that spits the citation out automatically after the data is typed in by the officer. The whole system is about the size of a cellular phone.

"Parking enforcement officers," as the police call them, will not put out any more tickets with the computers than they can with pen and paper, but will save hours of filing and tracking time afterward.

Capt. Charles Lane, who oversees administration of the Police Department, said the parking division has been backlogged almost four years in its efforts to catch up with delinquent tickets.

The department, he said, is just starting to inform the Motor Vehicle Administration about cars that received tickets in 1986 and 1987. The owners of those cars are forced to pay the tickets when they try to re-register their vehicles.

Forty-one percent of the 60,000 tickets issued each year in Annapolis are not returned, Lane said. Under the new system, the department hopes to realize up to 90 percent compliance.

"If people want to pay off their tickets, now is a good time," he said. "Beginning in about two weeks, when they punch in the tags it's going to show up 'scofflaw' on the computer."

"Scofflaw" is the part of the city code that allows police to impound a vehicle if it has three or more outstanding parking tickets.

A meter maid will be required to call in to make sure the vehicle owner didn't pay the ticket off that day. If not, the car will be impounded.

Though the mini-computers hit the street for the first time yesterday, the full data-base of delinquent tickets will not be available to the system for two more weeks. A private New York firm was contracted by the city to provide and maintain the computers and data base in exchange for a 16.5 percent cut of the ticket revenues, acting police chief Cassin B. Gittings said.

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