Police chief explains parking rules, fines

campus police carWith the beginning of every fall semester comes the busiest week of the school year — and that leads to many parking problems, said .

Fitzpatrick said this large influx of students who typically try to park in two or three parking lots causes congestion and rule-breaking for the first few weeks of every semester.

Fitzpatrick said he doesn’t expect many issues after students have a chance to get accustomed to the campus.

“It usually pans out in about a week,” he said.

He said students will be expected to know and follow the parking rules from day one.

“The campus isn’t going to go to tremendous extents to create … parking just for a couple of days out of the year,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said the most common violations of campus parking rules involve students parking where they should not.

“The most significant [violation] is parking in faculty spots,” he said.

“The vast majority of students [who] wind up with tickets will pull into a faculty/staff spot, and that’s a $15 fine.”

The other issue is when students create parking places.,Fitzpatrick said.

“When it’s not a designated spot, they just park — against curbs, on the grass, extending the parking lines out past where they’re supposed to be,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said students who block traffic or other areas by parking in no-parking zones may risk being towed if they can’t be located to move the vehicle.

“Every one of the parking places on campus has a lined spot, and there shouldn’t be any conflict in their mind as to whether or not they’re parking in a legitimate parking place.”

Fitzpatrick said students also need to be aware of traffic laws such as one-way lanes.

“… People will be driving up and they’ll see a spot open up, and they’ll go the wrong way on a one-way,” he said.

“They’ll backtrack, they’ll do something foolish to get that spot. Then, they wind up with a ticket and a moving violation.”

Of the parking violations, Fitzpatrick said, parking in a handicapped spot is one of the least common he sees — likely because of its hefty fine.

“[The fine] can range anywhere from $250 to $500, depending on whether you get a city citation or a county citation,” he said.

“If you get a campus ticket, it’s $100. It varies, dependent on who catches you. But if you’re in the spot, and you don’t have a tag like you’re supposed to, you’re going to get a ticket.”

The cost of fines for all parking lot violations can be found on the OCCC Police Department’s Traffic Parking brochure, available in the Police Station on the first floor of the Main Building or online at www.occc.edu/police/pdf/TrafficParkingBrochure.pdf.

To help ease parking confusion, Fitzpatrick said, students can follow @OCCCParking on Twitter. He said it is a valuable resource more students should take advantage of.

“We keep them up-to-date when the lots are full, so on their way here they can get an idea of what kind of luck they’re going to have,” he said.

“Compared to the number of students we have, there’s not nearly that many people following the Twitter account.”

He said he hopes resources such as the OCCC Parking Twitter account can remind students that OCCC has significant amounts of parking which goes unused.

“It seems that no matter how much [we] try to stress to [students] that there’s ample parking in D lot, E lot, F lot, they still just drive around A, and C and B lot looking for parking places, when they could go around there, park and walk in,” he said.

Fitzpatrick said it’s much easier to find parking at the back of the college, near the VPAC Theater, “especially later in the morning and in the afternoon … .”

He said there are a number of places students can go to find more information about OCCC’s parking places and procedures.

“You can go to the (college) webpage and pull up the campus map that tells you where the parking lots are,” he said.

“In the Student Handbook, it discusses student parking and violations, and the processes if you want to contest a citation.”

For more information, contact the OCCC Campus Police Department at 405-682-7872, visit www.occc.edu/police, or visit the office located on the first floor of the Main Building.

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