Park City Council considers creating a Police Department traffic division
The city is looking at options to manage the increased number of vehicles on the streets during the winter
For The Park Record
Park City staff members are exploring options to help mitigate problems associated with the annual influx of vehicles next winter, including creating a traffic division in the Police Department.
A new division, which would operate year-round, was one of three alternatives presented by the staff to Park City Council members at a March 31 meeting. That proposal calls for eight officers to manage traffic flow, respond to accidents and enforce speed limits.
The other options are continuing throughout the winter an increased level of service that was implemented during the Presidents Day period in February, one of the busiest times for ski resorts, or returning to the typical staffing, with a few officers stationed at key intersections to keep traffic flowing.
The typical staffing is considered medium-level mitigation and would cost $75,000, according to a staff report. The Presidents Day period model, a high-level mitigation approach, would cost $900,000.
A traffic division is the highest level of mitigation and would cost $3 million when fully staffed. The officers could be phased in.
The Police Department supports the division option, saying it would allow officers to do targeted enforcement and respond in real time to traffic accidents.
Several City Councilors said they support an increased investment in traffic operation measures. City Councilor Tana Toly said a traffic division would “make a lot of sense.”
“I’m happy to support the Police Department if that’s what they feel like they need to do but I also feel like we should be receiving additional support from the resorts before we take that role on ourselves,” Toly added.
City staffers will present a more detailed proposal later.
Also discussed at the recent meeting was the city’s approach to issuing citations for traffic violations and tickets for parking violations.
From Dec. 1, 2021, through March 21, 2022, Park City police officers made 980 traffic stops and issued 816 warnings and 164 citations. The citations were given when violations were egregious, endangered the general public or were committed by repeat offenders.
During that same period, Parking Services issued 2,587 warnings – the vast majority for first-time meter violations and a few idling notices – and 1,637 tickets with fines.
The parking enforcement philosophy is to issue tickets with fines to repeat violators and give warnings if a vehicle has no history of tickets or the tickets that were previously issued are, according to the staff report, “exceptionally older.”
The majority of tickets are issued to visitors and fewer than 100 per year are issued to residents, the report says. Most habitual violators are part of the workforce in Old Town, it says.
Some City Council members want enforcement of residential parking rules stepped up.
City Councilor Max Doilney said “a little bit more enforcement in the neighborhoods would probably be beneficial.”
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