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Police warned to ticket drivers

Superintendent orders crackdown

Boston Police Superintendent Robert Dunford has put his officers on notice: Ticket motorists who violate parking and driving laws or face the consequences.

Dunford said yesterday that there are no new ticket quotas and that he issued the stern warning to captains in a meeting Thursday to better serve the public and make the city's roads safer.

The effort is not a way of boosting city coffers, he said. The department is grappling with revenue shortfalls that have dramatically thinned the patrol force.

''This is just basic community policing," Dunford said in an interview. ''The captains know I go out roaming around. . . . The first priority is to reduce accidents."

The superintendent said he has told captains that he will drive around their districts to see whether traffic and parking laws are being enforced. If he catches any scofflaws, he said, he will call patrol supervisors down to account for the problem.

Dunford, who supervises all 1,300 patrol officers, said he will measure the performances of the captains by monitoring how many tickets their officers issue a month compared with prior months. Department statistics show that the number of tickets for moving violations issued by city police has fluctuated dramatically. In June, for instance, 12,071 were issued citywide, but last month that number dropped to 9,174.

In all of last year, 118,404 tickets for moving violations were issued in the city. By the end of last month, city police had written 92,991 this year.

Parking ticket data, which are kept by Mayor Thomas M. Menino's office, was not available yesterday, said a city spokesman.

Dunford said he wants officers to increase the number of tickets they give drivers for speeding (hundreds of dollars, depending on the speed), running red lights ($50), and ignoring stop signs ($50). He said he monitors police citations weekly, trying to determine which streets need more attention and where most accidents occur.

He also said he wants officers to better enforce parking laws, particularly when it comes to protecting the disabled. He said he told captains that the MBTA is being sued for allegedly failing to guarantee handicapped access to public transportation.

''I don't want the Boston Police Department to become a part of that suit because officers aren't writing tickets," Dunford said.

Dunford said he told officers to target cars that block handicap ramps and park illegally in handicap spaces.

Helen Hendrickson of the Boston Center for Independent Living, an advocacy group for the disabled that is suing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority over accessibility, welcomed the crackdown. ''Those spots exist because people with mobility impairments just cannot get around the city if they can't get spots where they're going," Hendrickson said yesterday.

MBTA officials said last month that they are stepping up efforts to keep the T accessible by clearing bus stops and stations of illegally parked cars.

Tony Horne, 45, of Brighton, who uses a wheelchair, said his life is constantly complicated by cars illegally blocking ramps. He said he has missed appointments because he has had to change his route to avoid obstructed ramps.

''It keeps me isolated to that block or forces me to backtrack an entire block," Horne said. ''It's infuriating. . . . People say, 'I was only there for a minute.' I say, 'How about if I flatten your tires for a minute?' "

Several people welcomed Dunford's announcement yesterday.

Renee Suchy, 42, who was shopping on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain with her 7-year-old daughter, said the streets have become dangerous because cars fly by and drivers break the law by idling in crosswalks.

''I have a small child and I can't tell you how many times we've almost been killed crossing the street," Suchy said.

Suzanne Smalley can be reached at

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