NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A report from the New Orleans Inspector General blasts the city's parking division.
The report blasts several parking control officers and has harsh words for the division for not producing records.
Investigators say that parking control officers sat for extended periods of time in coffee shops and hotel lobbies while on duty, often on personal cell phones.
The IG report details allegations from one of the business owners, who allegedly confronted a parking control officer who was sitting in the business for an "extended period of time." The owner states that the officer retaliated by issuing a large number of tickets to business employees and customers.
The Inspector General's office also investigated complaints from local and federal law enforcement officers who claimed their vehicles were cited. An investigation revealed that law enforcement vehicles parked in the vicinity of the federal courthouse were being cited, despite displaying a dashboard placard with the agency's emblem and the words "On Official Duty."
An administrative hearing later dismissed these citations, but the city incurred the cost of time spent issuing the citations, processing the citations, sending the citations to collections, sending collection letters and the cost of having an administrator dismiss the citations.
The Inspector General says the parking division did not produce all the requested documents and took months to even respond to the request to view the violations in question.
The City of New Orleans released this statement about the report:
"The City is currently investigating the appropriate disciplinary action to respond to the findings in the OIG report. Prior to the report's release, the Department of Public Works (DPW) had already taken a number of steps to enhance accountability and improve overall training and management controls for its Parking Control Division.
"In August 2014, DPW hired Professional Account Management, LLC (Duncan Solutions) to streamline ticket writing operations with new, handheld equipment that requires a City Parking Control Officer (PCO) to photograph and attach the image to the citation issued. The new equipment has reporting capabilities that make it possible to monitor the time of day and type of violation for all citations issued by each PCO. It is now part of the City's standard operating procedures for supervisors to review daily citation issuance by the time of the issuance and to document an explanation if there is a gap of more than 60 minutes between citations issued. The practice is enables supervisors to adjust the PCOs focus to areas with high incidence of illegal parking, as well as to minimize the amount of downtime while on patrol. The new handheld ticket writing equipment also makes it possible to monitor the routes that PCOs take as they issue citations in near real-time. Ultimately, this level of transparency enables supervisors to monitor more effectively, eliminate overlap between PCOs and minimize coverage gaps.
"In March 2015, the offices for the Ticket Writing Section and Administrative Hearing Center were relocated from the 8th floor of 1340 Poydras to City Hall, 1300 Perdido. Current records are now filed in a secure, dedicated document management area."