The Buffalo PBA says Buffalo Police officers have been receiving parking tickets for parking their personal cars illegally in downtown Buffalo. And, they think it's in retaliation for issuing tickets to parking enforcement officers for not wearing their seat belts.
Buffalo Police say they have every right to issue those tickets, because parking enforcement vehicles are not "emergency vehicles." In an attempt to curb the situation, the city's Corporation Counsel issued a letter to Buffalo Police contradicting that opinion. 2 On Your Side obtained a copy which reads, in part:
"The City of Buffalo Parking Violations Bureau drivers operate emergency vehicles in the course of their duties as defined in the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law." It goes on to say:
"Their city vehicles are used to enforce city ordinances, therefore, they are exempt from wearing seat belts."
Technically, drivers of specific emergency vehicles are not required to wear seat belts. We asked the state DMV today to clear up the confusion. Their explanation of the law is not that of Buffalo Corporation Counsel.
"They are city employees who work for a city department and under the definitions cited in 101 and 132-A they don't qualify for emergency vehicle status," says Ken Brown, State DMV spokesman.
We also asked PBA President Bob Meegan his thoughts on police officers getting ticketed when parking their personal cars illegally. He says he doesn't believe officers try to take advantage of the PBA sticker in their windows.
"If an individual is illegally parked," says Meegan, "then you pay the price. If you get ticketed, you get ticketed."
2 On Your Side tried to reach the Director of City Parking Enforcement, Leonard Sciolino, but his office said he was out for the day. Acting Buffalo Corporation Counsel David Rodriguez did not return our calls.