Parking code enforcement in Riverhead may soon be aided by mobile technology that will expedite ticketing and increase the rate of payments by violators, according to a Maryland firm that pitched the new system to town board members this morning.
Optotraffic of Lanham, Maryland will provide equipment, supplies and training at no cost to the town for a contract to collect fines on parking tickets issued by police and traffic enforcement officers, said the company’s eastern region general manager, Mike Phelan. The company would collect a fee from violators, — either a percentage of the fine or a flat-rate processing fee, at the town’s option.
A specially programmed cell phone will allow the enforcement officer to snap photos of the violation in the field, Phelan said. The phone, using GPS technology, records the location of the violation. The phone app allows the officer to choose the violation(s) to be charged from a drop-down menu customized for the Riverhead Town code, he said.
A person who is ticketed can instantly view images of the violation online — and pay fines.
“Wherever these are used, pay rates have gone up and court requests have gone down because of pictures,” Phelan said.
The company will provide cell phones and thermal-paper printers to the police department. It will also provide the printer paper, all at no cost to the town, Phelan said.
“We want to make sure the people you write tickets to are the people funding this program,” Phelan said. He did not disclose what the company’s fees might be, since the town will be issuing a request for proposals for the service.
Councilman Tim Hubbard, the parking district liaison, brought the company in to speak with the town board.
Better parking enforcement downtown will serve to “raise some revenue and clean up some violators,” Hubbard said.
There are two-hour time limits on all municipal parking stalls in the downtown parking district, Hubbard noted.
“We don’t want to be known as the ticket-writing capital of Eastern Long Island but we do have to enforce what we have,” he said. “We can put all the restrictions we want but if were not enforcing them, it doesnt do any good.”
Hubbard and Councilman James Wooten, both retired Riverhead Town police officers, said the system will allow the officer to write tickets much more quickly and so reduce the opportunity for confrontation with the person receiving the ticket.
“Nobody likes to get a ticket — we understand that,” Hubbard said, “but unfortunately there are some crazy people out there.” The new technology will allow the officer to “write the ticket and move on” and “allows him to have less confrontation with the vehicle owner,” Hubbard said.