A kinder, gentler police force

By Rob Treynor

March 18, 2014

A “kinder, gentler” police force.

That’s Mayor Darlene Steele’s hopes, as she explained a new sticker policy for cars breaking the city’s non-movement ordinance.

If a car is suspected of violating the non-movement policy, the tires will be chalked by a West Jefferson police officer. If the car has not moved 24 hours later, a sticker will be placed on the car.

“Once the car is stickered, they have 48 hours to move the car,” Steele explained to West Jefferson Village Council.

Steele continued, saying that the law will be enforced year-round.

“It won’t just be during the winter,” she said.

On the night of Thursday, Feb. 13, after a snow storm, West Jefferson Police Chief Terry Ward ordered his officers to ticket and tow vehicles that had not been moved in a 24-hour period from Feb. 12. Officers had “chalked” tires on Feb. 12, but had given residents no other indication their vehicles were about to be towed. The village towed 28 vehicles.

The new sticker policy would act as a 48-hour warning.

Council President Ron Garver voiced his concerns about the new warning system.

“Why can’t we put the sticker on the residence and not the vehicle?” Garver asked. “We can be civil about this. We’re a small town. If most people don’t know that law about parking, I don’t see a sticker on the car doing any good.”

Several members of the West Jefferson police force were present for Monday’s meeting. A few voiced their opinions as to problems which would arrive with Garver’s suggestion. The biggest issue being the cars are often registered to addresses outside of West Jefferson. To be consistent, the stickers would need to be placed on the vehicles.

Garver remained unconvinced, “We should put the sticker on the door.”

“Fair is fair. Mark it. Twenty four hours, then a sticker. Then [48] hours, then towed. If we don’t like it, we should just change the law,” Council member Ray Martin said.

Garver worried that the stickers on vehicles would go unnoticed. “I think that three-quarters of the people don’t know it’s a law,” he said.

“I think everyone knows this law now,” Council member Randy Otis said.

Otis then asked if the subject of towing, which had been discussed at every council meeting since the Feb. 13 incident, would be on the agenda for the next council meeting.

“Can I make a motion that we don’t talk about it at the next meeting?” Otis said, jokingly.

“A lot of people don’t see this as a joking matter,” Garver said. “If you think it is, you’re up here [on council] for the wrong reasons.”

In other business, Mayor Darlene Steele administered the oath of office to Patrick R. Milstead. Officer Milstead joined the West Jefferson police force as a part-time officer in October of 2013. He was sworn in as a full-time officer on Monday night.

Also on Monday, Dave Metzger, director of parks and recreation, told council that the ice rink in front of West Jefferson pool would be dismantled this week.

“I don’t think anyone ice skated on it at all this year,” Metzger said, adding that the village should look closely at merits of maintaining an ice rink next winter.

Rob Treynor can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 19 or via Twitter @RobTreynor.