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USAPD answers parking questions

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Briana Cunningham

Briana Cunningham

Briana Cunningham

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University of South Alabama Police Chief Zeke Aull answered questions about the new license plate recognition technology and how it will affect how parking is enforced around campus. The Vanguard previously reported that license plate recognition technology is being installed around USA’s campus and costs anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000.

Question: “Instead of spending $20,000 for cameras, why not just build more parking areas?” user Cassy White asked on Facebook. “Or maybe a parking garage?”

Aull: “What we’ve seen is that with the number of people we have working with us is that the proper enforcement efforts- for lack of a better word- is not always a deterrent for someone to not park in an out-of-zone location. Sometimes students will say ‘I’m willing to risk that 20 bucks to not be late for class,’ so the license plate system that we’re going to will enable us to provide more of an appropriate enforcement which, in turn, we believe will make students not want to take that chance.”

Any information concerning a parking garage was out of Aull’s control and thus, he could not comment on the issue, according to Director of Communications and Media Relations and Bob Lowry.

Q: “Will there be grace periods for students who had to get a new vehicle/tag” Sean Ramsey said on Facebook. “So [it] takes a week to get things lined up, you’re not charged 7+ days of violations?”

Aull: “Even with things like a rental car, you’ll be able to utilize your J-number and identifying information. Plug that in, and the system should be able to recognize that and have you in the appropriate zone. We think it will take away the problem and hassle of having to come get a temporary permit or risk getting a ticket.” Students should be able to register plates online, according to Aull.

Q: “Will family members who both go to South be able to exchange their tags still?” Jordan Campbell asked. Aull: “Right now, I don’t know. That’s something where we’ve had twins a couple of times that come here and they were in different areas of campus. We’ll try to work with them. We want to make sure we’re providing a good opportunity for both of them to be able to park close to their classes or in their respective lot so that would be something that on a case by case basis we would look at for a situation that is kind of rare on campus.”

Q: “I do agree that this could be helpful in the case he [Aull] cites: where if an individual is banned from driving on campus, their data would be in the system…but that also sounds like it’d be super easy to get around,” Facebook user Marisa Mills wrote. “If it’s connected by
license plate number, what’s to prevent that person from borrowing someone else’s car? Someone who isn’t banned? Aull also says students could have multiple plates, which again, okay, but when my car was totaled mid-semester, I drove a rental and later a new car for, I don’t know, maybe a week-and-ahalf? With my old parking pass. I was even straight-up told that was fine as long as it wasn’t long-term.”

Aull: “Exchanging the car is pretty easy, even right now. We register the hang tag not so much to the vehicle, so you can move your hang tag from wherever you want to go, but I have to believe that once it’s all said and done- and really I have to say the article is a little bit premature because we are still going through training and we are still learning the system so that it will be smart enough to work out some of those situations.”

Q: “What if you had parked with your trunk facing the back of the parking spot, and the front of your car facing the front?” Facebook user Kaylyn Grable wrote. “How does the camera pick up your plate?”

Aull: “There will be a rule change that will be rolled out during the fall. Pulling through a space or backing into a space will not longer be allowed. You’ll have to park where your license plate is visible so that as the [ticketing] vehicle goes through the lot, it’ll be able to see your license plate.”

Q: “And what about guests who visit campus?” Facebook user Ronda Girardeau wrote.

Aull: “Currently, we allow the secretaries of the departments to order permits online. Then they email that permit to the guest and the guest puts that in the dash. Whether we give the ability for that person on the outside to come in and use our system to do that, I’m not sure that is going to apply yet, but the faculty has it to a point now to where they can make that work. We’ll have to play with that. That’s a kink I don’t know I have a good answer for right now- yet- but it’s coming.”

One student expressed concerns about being watched or monitored in their campus lives. “Big Brother is watching,” user H. Carter Phillips III commented on Facebook, referencing George Orwell’s book “1984.”

Aull: “In reality, you’re worried about stuff you shouldn’t worry about,” Aull said. “Everywhere you go, there’s cameras. If you go to the mall, go to the grocery store, you go driving down the road; there’s cameras. So we’re not doing anything that’s different from what you’re experiencing now. As for the permit-type deal, they will drive down the row and the system will pick out the car that is not in the right zone. No one’s following you around or any ‘Big Brother is Watching You’ thing like that.”

Nothing is set in stone yet, according to Aull. “We’re in training now,” Aull said. “We’re having a company come in and they’re training us and teaching us. I’m sure we will be working out kinks between now and the summer and then maybe even during the fall. You might even have a hang-tag this fall because we want to make sure we’re doing this right.” For further questions about parking, contact Parking Services at [email protected] edu.

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USAPD answers parking questions