By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – City code-enforcement officers have written just one ticket since a new ordinance giving them police powers took effect March 1.
But that number could rise sharply after an initial lull.
“We wanted to wait to get the word out through the media,” said Cliff Brinkley, city code-enforcement manager, at a Tuesday press conference at City Hall. “We hope that once we write a few and the word gets around people will start complying.”
Employed by the Development Services Department, code-enforcement officers traditionally couldn’t issue citations for code infractions. Instead, they gave warnings and filed affidavits at Municipal Court. The court then issued citations. The process took weeks and involved both manpower and paperwork.
Now, code-enforcement officers can write a ticket on the spot, presenting it directly to the property owner or leaving it on the door. Tickets identify the infraction and provide a court date.
Each officer has his or her own ticket book.
The most common residential violations include vehicles parked in yards and junk stored outside in plain view, said officer Debra Byrd. For commercial infractions, it’s unauthorized signs advertising products or services, said officer Marilyn Vail.
“If we got aggressive on code enforcement, I could write 25-30 tickets a day,” Brinkley said. “That won’t happen unless we wanted to concentrate on a particular area.”
Byrd also said police officers will help crack down on evening and weekend violations, especially vehicles parked in yards.
FOR A LIST of city ordinances, visit the Development Service Department’s website at www.tupeloms.gov/development.