MERRIFIELD, Va. – Forget speed and red light cameras, you may soon have to worry about a volunteer police force in Fairfax County handing out more traffic tickets.
Because of a decline in the number of citations and revenue collected in recent years, a recommendation has been made to beef up the county’s volunteer police force “to help enhance parking enforcement activities.”
The recommendation comes in a draft report from the auditor for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
“Volunteers?” said one local driver as he headed out of a coffee shop in the county. “I guess I would worry more if I knew there were a lot more volunteers out there writing tickets.”
“It’s absolutely a money grab,” said another driver.
Figures from the Fairfax County Office of Financial and Program Audit show that the number of parking citations in the county dropped by about 12,000 between 2006 and 2011.
In 2006, 73,523 citations were issued. In 2011, 61,719 were issued. That works out to a drop in revenue of about $175,000 comparing the two years, even though certain parking fines actually increased in the county in 2010.
The report names three key reasons why the number of citations may be down:
Time spent by parking enforcement officers on other assigned duties
Other factors, such as the removal of a law that required county vehicles to display a valid Fairfax County personal property tax decal on the windshield. That violation was one of the top five citations in the county before it was removed in 2007.
Fairfax County Police would not comment on the recommendation, only saying that this is a very preliminary issue.
The Fairfax County Police Department does have a volunteer officer program. Potential candidates do have to go through background checks and training before they can become a voluntarily officer.
The auditor’s report says other jurisdictions around the country have set up similar volunteer parking enforcement programs.