The Port Orchard city council unanimously voted last week to enable its parking enforcement staff to issue tickets for parking and traffic code violations.
The need for the council to pass such an ordinance arose from a state law, Senate Bill 5051, which took effect July 25 of this year. Prior to the new law, individuals holding “limited commissions” were “authorized to exercise limited law enforcement authority to issue civil infractions related to Parking and Traffic Code Enforcement,” according to a city staff report.
The new law places limited commission officers — which the city has historically used for parking enforcement — under the same accountability structure as regular peace officers and requires that they become reserve officers of the commissioning law enforcement agency, the report states.
They must be “fully employed by that agency and subject to the same regulatory framework as all peace officers for background screening, misconduct investigations, retention of investigative records and personnel files, and decertification. It appears that the legislature’s intent was to ensure that limited commission officers are employed, supervised, and subject to the law enforcement policies and accountability structures for all peace officers.”
That puts a significant burden on limited commission officers, said City Attorney Jennifer Robertson. She said the new law requires limited commissioned officers “to go through all of the same training as fully commissioned officers, including the police academy and such, which is not only expensive but very, very time consuming. So by changing the ordinance allowing professional non-sworn staff to issue civil infractions, which is what parking is, we can go ahead and continue to operate that way without having to send our limited commissioned parking enforcement staff to the police academy.”
The Port Orchard Municipal Code states that non-sworn professional staff may be authorized to enforce violations; parking enforcement staff don’t need law enforcement commissions to enforce civil, traffic infractions, the staff report states. The ordinance passed by the council clarifies the distinction and reiterates that enforcement staff may issue civil infractions, the report states.
The council briefly discussed an amendment to the ordinance that would clarify that Bay Street is the same as State Route 166. The amendment and ordinance were both passed unanimously.