CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted the reassignment of hundreds of police officers to the streets as a better way to fight crime.
And while crime did drop last year, the redeployment of officers from desk jobs to beat duty has had another possible outcome: more parking tickets.
After years of steady declines, the number of parking tickets issued in the city went up last year to 2.5 million, a 6 percent increase from 2012, data from the city's Finance Department shows. It was the first time that the number of tickets issued increased from the previous year since 2008, when 2.7 million tickets were written.
While several different city agencies and private companies issued the tickets, the biggest jump last year was in the number of tickets written by police officers, who penned more than 1 million of them in 2013. That's nearly 170,0000, or nearly 20 percent, more than they wrote in 2012.
Police Department spokesman Adam Collins said police brass did not order officers to write up more parking scofflaws.
"There has been no direction for officers to write more parking tickets from department leadership," Collins said.
Collins said that said while police staffing declined under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the ranks of the department have grown slightly in recent years, and changes in assignments and the closure of some district stations have more police back on the beat.
"There are more officers working the street," Collins said. "CPD has more officers on its payroll today than in 2011, and in that time we have also moved hundreds of officers from administrative positions back to the street."
The spike in tickets written by police was greater than that of any other enforcement group. The city's 50 parking enforcement aides, who unlike the police, have only one job — wrote more than a million tickets last year, but that was just a 6 percent bump over 2012.
Finance Department spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said the department was down about 20 employees for four months in 2012 while they were assigned to other duties. Additionally, the department made other changes, including more training for employees, that could have contributed to that increase from 2012 to 2013.
Tickets written by private enforcement companies decreased. SERCO, a contractor hired for parking enforcement, wrote almost 360,000 tickets in 2013, an 11 percent drop. Enforcement crews for Chicago Parking Meters, the company that controls the city’s parking meter system for the next 70 years, wrote more than 106,000 expired-meter tickets, down 15 percent from 2012.
Meanwhile, the number of cars given a Denver boot remained stable in 2013.
The number of boots put on cars was about 1 percent higher in 2013, with city crews booting 59,681 scofflaw vehicles for nonpayment of parking tickets or red light tickets. But booting numbers were down 8 percent from the 65,000 vehicles hit in 2010.