Kansas City parking audit claims police are lacking, suggests change in enforcement

Picture of a parking ticket

A parking ticket under the wiper blade awaits a future unhappy motorist.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Office of the City Auditor has reported that police aren’t enforcing parking like they said they would three years ago, and something needs to change.

New City Manager Brian Platt agrees, according to a written response to the audit.

On April 22, 2018, the City of Kansas City and the Board of Police Commissioners signed an agreement that police would hire and maintain 10 full-time employees “dedicated to parking control activities” downtown. City leaders agreed to spend $145,000 to help hire more positions.

Leaders agreed that they needed to crack down on illegal parking downtown as the population density grew and more people visited the area. The City agreed to pay for the parking employees as long as the police department hired them. They were to be responsible for ordering tows and issuing tickets.

According to the audit, the 10 parking control officers never happened. The Kansas City Police Department had nine officers as of July 23, 2019, but that steadily declined since. Now, there are only two officers for the River Market, the Financial District and the Crossroads combined.

FOX4 is requesting a response from Kansas City police in regards to the audit’s findings.

The audit reports that the number of officers declined, even as the budget for these employees increased. According to the audit, $1.69 million was spent since the agreement in 2018.

Other audit findings include irregular communication between the city’s Joint Advisory Committee, made up of people from all involved organizations. The meetings started off regular, but eventually stopped happening, the audit found.

Finally, the audit claims the police’s goals are different from the city’s transportation goals. City leaders are looking to decrease on-street parking, especially long-term, and increase parking in garages, lots and structures.

The audit claims the control officers don’t follow defined enforcement routes and don’t have the right strategies. They are mainly trying to keep traffic flowing and maintain a daily citation quota.

“We make a recommendation to explore returning downtown parking enforcement to a city
department, outsourcing enforcement, or identifying other enforcement options to align
downtown parking enforcement with city goals,” Douglas Jones, city auditor, said in a statement.

Platt, the city manager hired in October 2020, agreed and said the roles should go back to the Public Works Department.

“I agree with the recommendation set forth in this audit report and strongly feel that parking enforcement can be performed by civilian employees,” he wrote in response. “Parking enforcement more closely aligns with the responsibilities of Public Works in that this Department is responsible for the creation and maintenance of on street parking spaces as well as an ‘adjacent’ responsibility of ensuring safe travel on streets and sidewalks for all road users.”

FOX4 will provide a response by police when it is provided.

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