SPD parrking

Scarsdale is testing a digital chalking device to track parking violations.

If you’ve ever parked a car in Scarsdale you’ve probably experienced it — a large chalk mark on your tire. The old-fashioned white chalk streak, which is supposed to be a reminder for parking enforcement officials to see if you’ve overstayed the time limit in a particular parking spot, is seeing a technological upgrade, now that a $64,000 license plate reader system has been installed in one Scarsdale police vehicle for beta testing.

“The village is still physically chalking tires,” said Josh Ringel, assistant to the village manager. “While we have purchased a license plate reader that has virtual chalking capabilities, the village plans to continue physical tire chalking.”

The new license plate reader, which is manufactured by Genetec and is supplied by SecureWatch24, was recently installed on a Crown Victoria model Scarsdale police vehicle. The new system, which includes two white cameras mounted on the rear quarter panels of the vehicle, will virtually chalk a car by noting its location and taking a photo of the vehicle’s plate and tire.

“As the police car drives by ... it’ll take a picture of the parked car’s tire and where the valve stem is and then when the police car drives back around, if it sees the same car again, it’ll read the plate from the license plate reader cameras,” said Scarsdale police Capt. Edward Murphy. The device will then match up an image captured by the camera and determine whether the parked car’s tire has moved or not.

The new technology, which is only in one vehicle and is still being tested by the police department, will act as a supplement to the already existing physical tire chalking system.

“The benefits of the virtual chalking system is to help reduce on street meter feeding and create turnover in short-term parking to promote commerce to the benefit of our local merchants in the village center,” Ringel said.

The technology is not completely centered on ticketing parking violations; it will also help convert the village to a virtual permitting system. Virtual permitting would allow a resident’s license plate to act as a permit rather than requiring them to obtain a paper permit from Scarsdale Village Hall.

“The intent is to increase staff efficiency, while also making it easier for the parker,” Ringel said.

The village generates approximately $600,000 a year because of parking fees and tickets. The money is considered general fund revenue and is used for general government purposes. The village has not had any discussions on privacy concerns regarding the new technology. No personal information is contained within the system, according to Ringel, although information about the vehicle, plate and location will be gathered and, if applicable, the tire and length of stay in the same location will also be gathered.

A decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati April 22 found that chalking tires was an unreasonable search and, therefore, a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Although that decision happened to correspond with Scarsdale’s decision to invest in new virtual chalking technology, it was not a deciding factor.

“This [new technology] has been in the works … we just don’t go out and buy something — we research it, it has to go for bid,” said Capt. Murphy. “It was just weird timing that [the court decision] came out the day we put the car out.”

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