Casper ramping up parking enforcement; license plate recognition tech coming - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Casper ramping up parking enforcement; license plate recognition tech coming

(Brendan LaChance, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Community Service Officers with the Casper Police Department have been ramping up enforcement of downtown parking rules, Lieutenant Ryan Dabney told the Casper City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Community service officers engage not only in parking enforcement, but also help with other tasks such as taking traffic accident reports or assisting with fingerprinting or VIN checks, Dabney explained.

Between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30, community service officers received about 1,000 calls for service. 182 of those calls were for parking problem, 129 of which were for parking problems in the downtown area, according to Dabney.

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About 90 parking citations were issued during that period. During the period, community service officers identified 14 “repeat offenders” who had violated downtown parking rules on more than one occassion.

“I was a little amazed that your list of repeat offenders was as short as it is,” Councilman Bob Hopkins said. “We get so many complaints about people parking down there all day every day.”

Hopkins said he was pleased to see that community service officers had been active enforcing downtown parking during Aug. and Sept.

Dabney said the number of citations issued “picked up a little bit in September because our staff was fully trained at that point.”

“We went through a high turnover this year,” he said of community service officers. “Now, we have four full-time CSOs that are dedicated to go down there and enforce that parking.”

Dabney said that in addition to having the extra feet on the ground, the department is working to implement new technology on two fronts.

Community service officers are only able to issue parking citations if they can demonstrate that a vehicle has overstayed downtown parking time limits. They do this by walking around the area and writing down the license plate numbers of all the vehicles in the area.

They then return and check if vehicles have overstayed the limits and if so, issue a citation. City Manager Carter Napier noted that the police department shifted to using sticky tickets because the Municipal Court frequently heard complaints from people that their tickets had blown away.

“I think that medium is working very well,” Napier said, adding that the change has been a “dramatic improvement.”

But Dabney said that the task of logging license plate numbers is time consuming and takes away from the amount of time community service officers can dedicate to other tasks.

For that reason, the department is in the process of moving to a Brazos Technology system which makes it more efficient to tag vehicles. The technology still requires community service officers to type in plate numbers but cuts the time it takes to write down plate numbers in half.

In addition, the system automatically uploads citation documentation to the court.

“It is a lot easier process,” Dabney said.

In addition, the police department is looking into purchasing license plate recognition technology to further expedite the process. Dabney said the department is looking at technology from two companies: Vigilant Solutions and Genetec.

He said the City of Cheyenne has been using the Genetec software which appears to be more reliable in Wyoming.

“Vigilant has a couple reading errors for Wyoming,” Dabney added.

Wyoming’s University of Wyoming specialty license plates have hologram systems which makes it hard for the Vigilant technology to read accurately. Dabney said Genetec has about a 97% positive reading of plates.

Pointing to improvements in the technology, he said that Casper PD looked into license plate recognition technology a few years ago, but when they tested the software it “read fence posts as numbers.”

While the license plate recognition technology would help with efficiency, Dabney said that community service officers would still need to verify information about vehicles themselves when issuing citations.

The technology doesn’t only hold promise for parking enforcement, but could also be used to recognize vehicles known to be stolen or for vehicles which police have been advised to be on the lookout for.

Councilman Charlie Powell said he thought the department was moving in the right direction on parking enforcment.

“I think it is a long time coming to get this going,” he said.

If you would like to contact members of the Casper City Council regarding this or any other issue, here is their contact information:

Mayor Steve Freel (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz (Ward I, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Charlie Powell (Ward II, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Shawn Johnson (Ward II, Term expires 1/3/23):

Councilman Ken Bates (Ward II, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Steve Cathey (Ward III, Term Expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Bob Hopkins (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Mike Huber (Ward I, Term expires 1/5/21):

Councilman Ray Pacheco (Ward III, Term expires 1/3/23):

Council members can also be reached by mail at: 200 N. David Street, 82601

If you would like to contact members in your specific ward, but don’t know which ward you are in, a map is available at the City of Casper’s website.