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AutoChalk renamed–and reexamined
In Fredericksburg, Robocop is more than just an 80s movie about cyborgs. It’s the name some City Council members are using for the automated parking enforcement system the city bought earlier this year.
Council members dropped the R-bomb several times last night while discussing an item on the City Manager’s Report.
Police Chief David Nye has agreed to partner with the University of Mary Washington to provide another parking enforcement officer to patrol the neighborhoods around UMW. The report states that “the part-time [officer] will be primarily tasked with enforcement of parking regulations in the residential areas nearest the University.”
The school has agreed to contribute $8,000 toward the expense, and Nye deemed the position worthy of equivalent funding from his department’s part-time labor budget.
Debby Girvan and Marvin Dixon said they didn’t understand why the city should need another parking enforcement officer, when one of the arguments for AutoChalk was that it would allow police to zoom through downtown parking checks, freeing up time to patrol College Heights and other neighborhoods for violations.
“To me, that just seems to be rather poor form,” Dixon said. “We take walking parking enforcement officers downtown and replace them with Robocop. We say we’re going to use Robocop in the neighborhoods around the college, and yet we’re putting walking officers there.”
He asked for a report on “the effectiveness of Robocop.”
Vice Mayor Kerry Devine–who voted pro-Robocop–said the parking problems in College Heights can’t be enforced by machine, since on-street parking spots in the neighborhood don’t have time limits like the ones downtown.
Girvan, who along with Dixon voted against Robocop, said this little $8,000 item–which does not need a council vote for approval–is an example of “cost creep” in the city budget. She said it’s a redundancy, and that the university should put some of its own police force toward keeping students from breaking the parking rules in the neighborhood.