Friday, July 1, 2011

Press Release on Upcoming Parking Lot Regulations

Crime Victim Advocacy Center (CVAC) applauds the efforts of Mayor Slay and his taskforce to increase the safety of vehicles and to reduce the number of break-ins downtown. Our advocates hear on a daily basis about people who have had car windows broken, locks punched out, and other vandalism on top of the property stolen from their vehicle, with few resources to offer for assistance. There are several issues, however, that we believe need to be considered when drafting the new regulations for parking lots. Our interest lies not only in protecting the vehicles of those who park downtown, but also the safety of parking lot patrons and attendants.

What will the attendant position requirements be? Is the mere presence of an attendant anticipated to be a deterrent or are they expected to perform some sort of security role? If the City and parking lot owners are expecting attendants to be a security measure, will they be required to submit to criminal background checks?
Will the attendants be allowed to carry a weapon if they have a CCW permit? Cases like the death of Officer Darryl Hall highlight the fact that bouncers or other unofficial security personnel with concealed weapons can potentially escalate situations, rather then diffuse them.
Will the parking lots be required to provide a secure place for the attendants to work?  While an attendant could be a deterrent to criminal activity, too easily they could also become the victim of a crime of opportunity, especially if they are in possession of all the cash collected for that night’s event. A car break-in spree could quickly turn into an armed robbery. Also, the attendant could face retribution if the criminals realize that he/she is calling the police to report suspicious activity, turning a car break-in spree into an assault, or worse.
What will the training require them to do if they spot suspicious activity? Obviously, it would not be in the best interest of the attendants’ safety to have them confront thieves. However, will they be taught to leave the scene after reporting it to avoid being the victim of an assault or robbery? Will they have to stay at the scene to report continued movements/activities of the criminals to the 911 operator until police arrive?
What will the police response time be? CVAC’s advocates have heard anecdotal stories of victims who try to report damage to their vehicle after an event downtown where the police response took anywhere from half an hour to two hours. In some cases, the victim was encouraged to make a report over the phone because no officers would be available for hours due to a high volume of incoming calls. While those cases involve crimes that were already committed by an offender who had left the scene, CVAC wants the City and P.D. to ensure that the attendants know how to get an immediate police response for the crime in progress.

These are just some of the suggestions and concerns that Crime Victim Advocacy Center would hope the policy drafted by the City would address. While we support the effort to reduce victimization and to make downtown more visitor-friendly, we urge caution and careful consideration before a policy is implemented.