New vehicle chosen for increased visibility and effectiveness
As Chief of Police in Kirkland, I was very pleased to learn that our new Parking Enforcement vehicle has already caught people’s attention. What really may be surprising to many is the primary purpose of Parking Enforcement and who’s working behind the wheel. The City’s two parking enforcement officers (PEOs) do much more than issue citations. They are excellent ambassadors for the City of Kirkland as they are akin to a mobile help desk - highly visible and frequently contacted for numerous parking and non-parking related issues.
They have helped reunite lost children with parents, assist lost visitors in finding their destination and find help for lost animals. The officers work for the Police Department and while they are not police officers, they are truly an extra set of eyes and ears for all. They are often contacted by citizens wishing to report a crime and, on occasion, are witnesses to crimes themselves, quickly calling for police assistance on their radio. They don’t drive police cars, but their visible, accessible presence is comforting to visitors. Every day our PEO’s are waved down by visitors looking for a place to park, a place to eat or a place to simply go for a walk and enjoy everything that Kirkland has to offer. They are true frontline advocates for the City of Kirkland and our business community. Their knowledge and diligence to the enforcement of parking regulations is critical for our visitors as well as the vitality of our business community.
We are very pleased that despite being on the road for less than a week, our new Parking vehicle is already the talk of the town. After 11 years of service, our traditional three-wheel parking vehicles needed to be replaced and many options were researched, tested and carefully considered before choosing the Toyota Scion. Like our previous transition to black and white police cars, the make, model, color and graphics of the new parking vehicle were purposely chosen to increase visibility and ease of recognition for our visitors and business community. The vehicle is highly maneuverable, provides increased safety and comfort for our parking enforcement officers, while increasing their effectiveness by more efficiently accessing the rest of the City. Unlike the previous parking vehicles, the Scion can be safely driven on the freeway, which will allow us to expand the parking enforcement program and serve a larger geographical area. In addition to these increased benefits and efficiencies, the transition to the Scion will save our taxpayers approximately $20,000 per vehicle. One new vehicle is already hard at work and we are currently in the process of ordering a second replacement vehicle which will complete our fleet of two parking vehicles.
The goal of the Kirkland’s Parking Enforcement program is to enhance quality of life through effective enforcement of parking laws and regulations. Our services provide for the safe and efficient flow of traffic, emergency access and turnover of parking spaces in both residential and commercial areas. The City continuously works on ways to increase parking availability and to enhance the overall parking experience. Our collective efforts also seek to ensure that downtown business employees don’t negatively impact their own employer by parking in spaces that could otherwise be used by those who visit, shop and dine in Kirkland. All of this is critical to the health of our business community, because if a visitor can’t find a place to park, they may choose to take their business or leisure elsewhere.
The desired outcome of our Parking Enforcement program is voluntary adherence to the parking time limits, so that everyone may have reasonable and equitable access to park and experience what makes Kirkland such a great place to live, work, shop and play. While we understand that getting a parking ticket is not enjoyable, we are proud of our parking officers as they work hard each day to help everyone enjoy Kirkland. I encourage you to say hello when you see them in your neighborhood.
Police Chief Eric Olsen