More Fun With Parking Tickets:
Valley Police Department, January 1992
Personally, I was not a real hard case when it came to parking violations…

As I’ve pointed out in another story, (See; Parking in the Park,) the two things that will piss off a citizen more than anything else, is to impound their dog, or write them a parking ticket. I’ve observed more stupid behavior from adults in reaction to such enforcement activity, and more complaints lodged against police officers for properly doing their duty while engaged in this activity.

In most jurisdictions, a parking citation can be a fairly expensive issue. In Omaha, a parking ticket might set you back anywhere from $25 to $100 dollars depending on the specific offense. In Valley, a parking ticket was a bargain. Only $5 Bucks! At that rate, you might pay $25 and park improperly all month!

During the early 1990’s, Valley enacted what was known as the Winter Parking Ordinance. Between the dates of November 15 through April 15, no parking would be allowed on the streets at any time between 2:00 AM and 6:00 AM. With a few exceptions, this ordinance was pretty much accepted by the local community, and unless there was a recent snowfall over the holidays, the Mayor would typically order a moratorium period over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Illegal and Improper Parking had always been the Mayor’s Number One Pet Peeve long before the City Council ever thought up this Winter Parking Ordinance. It was therefore prudent, that as soon as the bar rush was over at 2:00 AM, the duty officer would go out and issue all of his parking tickets for the night. Early in the winter season, this might net ten to fifteen tickets per shift. After a few weeks, it was common to issue only one or two, if any at all during the night.

Personally, I was not a real hard case when it came to parking violations, and as a rule, I felt that parking tickets were a pain in the neck. But let’s face it; it was part of the job! Because they were a pain in the neck, if the public gave me any crap about parking tickets I would typically dig my heals in and apply the rule of law against the violator.

In late January 1992, I came across a vehicle registered to a party whom I’ll refer to as Sheryl Garbo, parked on the street at 3:11 AM. It received a parking citation for violation of the Winter Parking Ordinance. A few days later, the Police Department received a letter from Ms. Garbow, along with her copy of the citation. It read:

To Officer V114.
Jan 27, 92.

Read your ticket before you give it out. I'm not from your town. I am a tourist. So I'm not paying.

Thank You.
1-S9574 NB

So, after considering Ms. Garbow’s letter for a moment, I sat down at the typewriter, and composed one of the better letters I’ve ever produced during my law enforcement career:

Ms. Sheryl Garbo
Route 1,
Waterloo, Nebraska 68069

Refer: Parking Citation CC1763 space space space January 31, 1992

Ms. Garbo,

Thank you for your letter of January 27, 1992.

If you had read the citation as you had indicated, you would have learned that the City of Valley's Parking Ordinances have been enacted to aid farmers, tourists, store patrons, business houses, etc. by preventing traffic congestion. Nothing on the citation vaguely suggests that persons, such as tourists, are exempt from these laws.

In any event, your letter indicates that you are not paying the fines quoted on the citation, which causes the Police Department to understand your letter as your indication that you desire to exercise your right to contest the citation. In matters such as this, the citation must be contested before a Judge of the Douglas County Court.

Please find enclosed, a Traffic Citation for the offense of the non moving violation of Winter/Seasonal Parking Prohibition, Valley Municipal Code, 5-811. Your Court Appearance Date has been set for 9:00 AM, February 21, 1992, at the Douglas County Court House, Seventeenth and Farnam Streets, in Omaha, Nebraska. If you choose to waive your Court Appearance, you may submit your fines to the Court by following the instructions on the reverse side of the traffic citation.

WARNING: It is in your best interest not to ignore this citation. You must appear in Court on the date and time quoted, or waive the citation by submitting the fines to the court before the appearance date quoted. Failure to comply with the terms of the citation may lead to other legal action which may include, but are not limited to the suspension of your driver's license, and/or a warrant to be issued for your arrest.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Signed Respectfully,

Randal R. Schulze
Officer II,
Valley Police

With the approval of the Chief of Police, this letter, with the enclosed citation was mailed to Ms Garbo via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested which acts the same as being served personally with the citation.

In 1992, Nebraska Court Costs alone were set at $21.00 per citation. …And while it was later learned that Ms. Garbo chose to waive the citation, I understand the court levied a fine of $25.00, which by the contemporary standards of the time, was the minimum court fine for a parking violation. She could have paid the original $5 dollar fine, or better yet, she should have chose not to have parked illegally in the first place. Instead, she had to shell out $46.00!

After word of this little transaction got out around town, (Thanks to Ms Garbo's loud complaining in the local drinking establishments,) we rarely had anyone violating the parking ordinances, and if parking tickets were issued, they were certainly never contested!

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