There are currently 21 students who have been barred from parking on Mercer’s campus. Mercer’s Chief of Police Gary Collins said that students can be restricted from parking in certain places on campus after accruing too many parking tickets in a single semester.
“We try to catch violators who have five tickets,” Collins said. “I don’t like to call it a ban, though. It’s really a restriction, a parking restriction in place to help the students. It really saves them. We don’t want them to build up a huge amount.”
One of those 21 students, a current junior who asked to remain anonymous, said that he didn’t know about the restriction until he was barred from parking.
“I had around ten parking tickets before I got the phone call, however, according to the officer that issued the ban, you can be banned as soon as you reach five tickets,” the student said in an email.
Collins said that all the information could be found on the tickets the students get themselves, as each ticket has a label that says “Repeat Violator” if more than one ticket is placed on their account. The amount of each ticket also increases by $10 for each ticket given.
“The warning is on the ticket,” Collins said. “Any vehicle that has restricted parking can park in the baseball lot or the upper engineering lot,” Collins said. “We never ban anyone from completely parking on campus. The ticket is the warning.”
The ban isn’t permanent, as the student will be allowed to park on campus again starting Dec. 1. The time in which any student can be banned from parking is not definitive, however, as it fluctuates per case.
“We usually ban them for the semester, but if it’s the very end of the semester, like only two weeks left, it’ll carry over to another semester,” Collins said.
While the restriction of parking does limit where the student can park, Collins said it should never keep a student from having access to parking that aligns with their disability needs.
“If a student’s got a disability, and they have a handicap placard, they can still park in the handicap parking spaces. Besides, most of the time, anyone that has a handicap placard isn’t parked on a yellow curb or a fire lane. And for students who have the disability but don’t have the placard, we offer an escort service. You park in the lot, call us, and we’ll come get you and take you anywhere you want to go,” Collins said.
These tickets can be issued by any of Mercer Police’s 17 officers.
“I think that if you look at Mercer as a whole, we’ve got a good portion of officers in an area that comprises Mercer. You could probably go to other police departments, and you wouldn’t see the number of staff per people that we have,” Collins said.
A total of two to four officers work at once, depending on whether a special event is taking place. Collins said that he believes this is enough to help the students on campus avoid fines and stay safe.
“We give out these tickets and do restrictions to cap that limit out so that fees won’t keep amounting to a high dollar amount,” Collins said.
Collins said that the police station does more than just print and distribute tickets.
“We also investigate crimes and do a full range (of services),” Collins said. “Our priority is to keep you safe.”