Pikeville suspends tire-marking in parking enforcement

Pikeville has suspended “chalking” of vehicles in timed parking enforcement.

After a Court of Appeals ruling in a Michigan cased declared the practice unconstitutional, the City of Pikeville has suspended the marking of tires with chalk as part of its parking enforcement in the city.

Pikeville Police Chief Chris Edmonds told the News-Express on Friday that the city’s traffic control officer will no longer mark the tires of vehicles parked in parking spaces with time limits of city streets. The “chalking” of tires is done to monitor how long a particular vehicle has been in the same parking space. Edmonds said that following the ruling, which was handed down Thursday, chalking is suspended until a final decision can be made in federal court.

“We plan to uphold the ruling at this point in the city,” Edmonds said. “We won’t go against it, and this department would never intentionally go against something addressing a constitutional right.”

In a Facebook post Thursday, Pikeville Public Safety advised that chalking would cease based upon a ruling by the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan. The ruling is in regard to a case out of Michigan in which a woman unsuccessfully argued that the chalking of tires is an unjust search by police, and therefore a violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights protecting them from illegal search and seizure by police. The Court of Appeals ruling overturned the decision in the woman’s case.

According to the a filing in the case “Taylor v. City of Saginaw (Michigan),” the Court of Appeals found that chalking “is a search under the Fourth Amendment.” The filing also states that the court’s decision “does not mean, however, that chalking violates the Fourth Amendment,” but that “community care-taking” and a motor vehicle exception to the Fourth Amendment do not apply in the case. The filing states that the city will be free to make other arguments in the case based upon other perceived exceptions.

Edmonds, who called parking issues among the biggest with which the city must deal, said he believes the case will require more court consideration before it is resolved for good.

“I believe the issue will eventually go before a panel of judges, and hopefully they will reach a consensus about what can be done,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds said officers have been chalking tires in Pikeville for more than 35 years, after the removal of parking meters in the city in the late 1970s or early 1980s, something the police chief does not want to see return to city streets. He said the practice of chalking tires has helped enforce timed parking, while also allowing parking to stay free in the city for those parking for less than two hours.

Edmonds said he has never fielded a complaint, based upon a constitutional issue, about chalking during his entire career. He said consistent parking enforcement, including the marking of tires, has helped the city and its businesses.

“It keeps traffic flowing in town, it keeps parking spaces open,” he said. “The business owners want to keep traffic flowing because it helps their business.”

Edmonds said non-timed parking is available in several locations around the city, including in the city parking garage and in the riverfill area. Edmonds said people who work in the city and plan to park their vehicle for the entire workday should use those areas.

“It only makes sense to do that if you’re going to be in an office all day long,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds said that although chalking has ceased, parking enforcement will continue in the city in all other areas, including timed parking.

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