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MELROSE

Unfairness charged in parking ban
By Caroline Louise Cole, Globe Correspondent | April 3, 2005

Melrose officials have begun an analysis of how the Police Department enforces the city's overnight parking ban after Alderman George Doyle charged that police have been unfairly targeting his neighborhood because he has taken the lead in delaying back pay for their union.

Police have accused Doyle of removing tickets from cars in his neighborhood.

Additionally, the Melrose Board of Aldermen will consider a modification to the city's parking ordinance tomorrow so that residents without legitimate off-street parking options would be allowed to park overnight on the street, according to Donald Conn, president of the Board of Aldermen. Melrose bans on-street parking from 2 to 6 a.m. year-round. Conn said Doyle had come to him with concerns over the ticketing practice.

The parking ticket debate came to a head two weeks ago when Officer John Ross said he discovered Doyle removing violation notices from three cars parked legally on Upland Road while Ross was patrolling the neighborhood, according to two separate police reports of the March 20 incident.

Doyle, the Ward 1 alderman, is chairman of the Aldermen's appropriations subcommittee, and in that capacity has delayed approval of $700,000 in back pay awarded to the Police Department by a state arbitrator last December.

Mayor Robert J. Dolan, who said he also had talked to Doyle about his concerns over the pattern of ticketing, said he ordered the review of the practice because Doyle's allegation, if true, represents a new, public expression of the labor unrest that has plagued the department since the arbitrator issued her ruling.

''I would hope this is not true and that this has nothing to do with the contract dispute, but it is a very serious charge because it is against the law for police to use their badge for personal gain," Dolan said. ''The police cannot selectively enforce the law, although they are permitted to use discretion."

Doyle said he could not discuss the parking ticket dispute or the funding issue because he had not seen the two police reports alleging that he removed the tickets. According to one of the police reports, he told the officers that he intended to take the tickets to the mayor's office. Ross wrote one of the reports. The other was written by Sergeant Charles P. Byrne, whom Ross called for backup.

Doyle also took issue with Byrne's assertion in the report that Doyle was acting irrationally because he had been drinking. In Byrne's report, Byrne said he smelled alcohol on Doyle's breath.

''I am in shock that they would say these things about me," Doyle said when asked to comment. ''I had no idea that was being said because I did not know about the police report until now. This has gotten way out of hand."

Melrose Police Chief Richard Morrissey said he is standing by his officers and their report.

''If people are parking where they are not supposed to be parking, it's a violation," Morrissey said. ''I cannot issue an unlawful order because I am sure if I told my officers not to tag cars on Upland, residents on the other side of the city would complain we are being unfair to them."

While Morrissey said he is sympathetic to those residents who do not have space for driveways on their properties or other off-street parking options, he said it is up to the aldermen to modify the parking ordinance to provide relief for hardship cases.

Furthermore, Morrissey suggested that the reason Upland Road residents have gotten a high number of parking tickets is that they have been ignoring them.

''Officers tend to return to an area where they know that people aren't paying attention to the ordinance or the tags," Morrissey said. ''They see it as educating the public about the ordinance."

Dolan said he supports the citywide overnight parking ban because it lowers the cost of snow removal and allows freer movement of emergency vehicles. Also he said he thinks it helps reduce crime because the police can quickly identify abandoned cars and others that don't belong in the area.

However, Dolan said historically the Police Department has permitted residents of Upland Road to park on the unpaved margins in front of their homes if enough space was left for emergency vehicles and snow plows.

''Upland Road is a very narrow, winding street and it is hard for fire trucks and such to negotiate there if there are cars parked on the street," Dolan said. ''But those residents have always been allowed to use the gravel pads in front of their houses even though that land technically is owned by the city because their properties are so small they don't have room for driveways."

Similar discretion in enforcement has been shown in other dense neighborhoods, Dolan said.

Conn said he hopes the aldermen also will address the back pay funding issue shortly.

''One of the issues which has caused us to slow down the appropriation is a concern about the city's cash flow," Conn said. ''I filed an order to have the cash flow analyzed because we are low on funds. If we pay this award, we will exhaust our entire free cash fund."

Caroline Louise Cole can be reached at [email protected]

What the globe fails to state is that the police are 3 years 9 months out of a contract.
 

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mpdcam";p="61806 said:
What the globe fails to state is that the police are 3 years 9 months out of a contract.
Typical Anti-Cop crap from the globe. Good Luck to the guys and gals on the Melrose PD!
 

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Why not charge the fool. AS far as I am concerned he is interfering and he might be able to get charged with destroying parking ticket. I can't remember the last time I wrote a parking ticket but I do remember a chapter and section on there if someone destroys it or removes it from the vehicle. Or at the very least, PC the screwball.
 

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And here it is,

Chapter 90: Section 20D Tampering or destruction of parking tags; penalty

Section 20D. Whoever unlawfully tampers with or removes from a motor vehicle, or unlawfully changes, mutilates or destroys any notice affixed to such motor vehicle in accordance with section twenty A or twenty A1/2 shall be punished by a fine of not more than fifty dollars, or by imprisonment in jail for not more than one month, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
 
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