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Police Chief Questions Enforcement of City Parking Stickers

Ludlow Police Chief Scott Smith questioned the value of the time spent enforcing city parking stickers that residents purchase to be able to park their vehicles on the streets.

Smith said that his department writes about 12 citations a month and the time spent hashing out the details about who is a resident and who is a visitor has taken time away from their other duties as police officers. He said that it often takes up to 45 minutes to an hour to either prove or disprove the validity of a citation.  

His suggestion was to use the revenue generated by the sticker sales to pay overtime for an officer who is strictly dedicated to enforcing the parking situation in Ludlow, but City Councilman Dan Ashcraft said that the city has other plans for that generated revenue.

“It’s not really valuable the way it’s working right now because we have two officers working at a time, and if those guys are looking for drugs, burglaries, juvenile nuisances, then those stickers become hard to enforce unless we dedicate and officer to enforcing those stickers,” Smith said.

“If we’re not going to enforce it than we are wasting our time on it,” Councilman Dan Ashcraft said. “We have revenue that we’re expecting from those stickers.

“I don’t understand why you have to verify if they live there. I would think that your job would be to say, here is a car that has been parked here at least several days in a row, and if it doesn’t have a sticker on it, I’m just going to write a ticket. It’s really not your job to determine whether or not it’s a viable ticket; that’s up to them to prove when they come to the city and deal with it.”

Smith said that clarity on the ordinance would be helpful to his department to provide more specifics to what the rule actually is. Mayor Ken Wynn decided that the issue falls under a safety issue and that the city safety commission can meet with the police in order to try and find a solution and discuss the matter again in the caucus meeting scheduled for later this month. 

Other notes:

  • The city has saved over $4,000 on lawn mowing by allowing the public works to cut the grass in abandoned properties rather than contracting out the work to other private landscaping companies.  
  • The storefront on the corner of Elm and Carneal Streets is still being used as residential despite the fact that it is zoned as commercial and a citation to the owner of the building is expected to be issued. Previously it was thought that the storefront window that had been replaced with a standard-sized residential window had also been in violation but Code Enforcement Officer Tom Gardener said on Thursday that the city has since learned that it is allowed by current zoning ordinances.
  • The Ludlow Police Department continues promote the new drug hotline designed to receive information on drug activity more quickly than they would receive through 911 dispatch. The department has received 12 calls, but none of which have resulted in an arrest.
  • The police department has also formed three specific response teams: a drug response team, an investigative team, and a community response team.
  • Since Chief Smith has taken over the job, monthly police calls have dropped 20 percent, with 780 in the month of October. Smith said that number is about average for a city the size of Ludlow.
  • City administrator Elishia Chamberlain applauded the administration department and public works for helping direct traffic when a car exploded in front of the Municipal Building on Elm Street. Chief Smith was at a training the day of the explosion and the officer on duty was on a domestic call when it happened.
  • The new Ludlow Tavern has put up its sign at 214 Elm Street and hopes to open by the end of December. It plans on being a full-service tavern with a small-focus menu, four beers on tap, special cocktails and craft beers available for carry out.

-Bryan Burke, associate editor