Police phase out tire-chalking for parking patrols

Posted 5/8/19

Drivers in Port Townsend and Jefferson County will no longer have their tires marked with chalk for parking enforcement, although this change is only partially the result of a recent federal appeals court ruling.

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Police phase out tire-chalking for parking patrols

Posted

Drivers in Port Townsend and Jefferson County will no longer have their tires marked with chalk for parking enforcement, although this change is only partially the result of a recent federal appeals court ruling.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit unanimously agreed April 20 that chalking tires constitutes a form of trespass, and would therefore require a warrant.

This decision currently only affects the 6th Circuit, which covers Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, but has sparked a nationwide discussion about tire-chalking.

Port Townsend Police Chief Mike Evans said his department had already been exploring alternatives to chalking tires before the appeals court ruling last month.

“The world of parking enforcement was new to me when I first came to this police department,” Evans said. “But I’ve never been a big fan of putting chalk on tires. It’s rather labor intensive.”

Even though Washington state falls entirely within the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Evans admitted he took the 6th Circuit’s ruling as reason enough to discontinue the practice in Port Townsend.

From here, the police department is still exploring alternatives to chalking, although Evans hastened to add that traffic enforcement is continuing at its previous pace.

“We’re still logging plates,” Evans said. “There are electronic equivalents of chalking that involve scanning plates, but those are extremely expensive. We’ll keep on looking for alternate methods.”

Jefferson County Sheriff Joe Nole pointed out that his department would not be impacted by this ruling, even if it had been made by the 9th circuit, because his deputies do not chalk tires for parking enforcement.

“Interesting concept, though,” Nole said.

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