Scofflaws getting the 'boot' in Flagstaff

2013-04-21T05:00:00Z Scofflaws getting the 'boot' in FlagstaffERIC BETZ Sun Staff Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
April 21, 2013 5:00 am  • 

If you have an unpaid parking ticket, the Flagstaff Police Department would like you -- and some 600 others like you -- to take care of it.

There are so many outstanding tickets that the department is trying to get in front of the problem by encouraging absconders to cough up the money before parking control officers boot their cars.

Unofficially, the Flagstaff Police Department is calling the effort "Operation Boots on the Ground."

More than 100 people have multiple unpaid parking tickets and 26 of those have unpaid tickets worth more than $300.

The 26 scofflaws are already on the "boot list."

The worst of the group has $626 in unpaid fines.

One financial fugitive recently racked up some $1,200 in tickets before getting booted.

"People usually take care of them once they get their cars booted," Deputy Chief of Police Dan Musselman said.

With typical parking tickets ranging from $33 to $83, it takes a blind eye for "No Parking" signs and red curbs to rack up hundreds of dollars in bills. Once a parking ticket hasn't been paid on time, a $20 late fee is tacked on. After 30 days of being unpaid, another $20 is tacked on.

Musselman said that he began tracking the number of boots placed on cars and noticed that some of the balances owed were surprisingly high.

He decided it would be best to focus on people with the highest balances until they had a more manageable number.

He says that the second part of his logic for focusing on the problem was that the department currently has a number of officers on light duty. By addressing the problem now, Musselman said it allows the department to work smarter, not harder.

Altogether it amounts to tens of thousands of dollars in uncollected revenue. Police officials say they understand that many people are struggling financially and can't afford the expense.

However, police officials say they don't want to be in the business of towing people's cars.

They'd much rather violators simply paid off their tickets.

"The city could really use the money," Musselman said. "But I understand that people would rather put their money toward food on the table than toward parking tickets."

Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or ebetz@azdailysun.com.

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