Parking officer gets the boot |

Parking officer gets the boot

John Colson

A city of Aspen parking enforcement officer got a little of her own medicine when her official city vehicle was booted in the Mill Street Station parking lot Thursday afternoon.

Sheree Barnett, who has been working for the parking department for only “a couple of months,” according to one department staffer, parked her three-wheeled “Go-4” vehicle directly under a sign that read, “No Parking, $100 Fine, Violators vehicles will be impounded.”

Within minutes, the parking lot’s manager, Chip Munday, showed up with a “Denver boot” wheel immobilization device and booted the vehicle, while numerous citizens watched gleefully, commenting and laughing.

“I had to do that, just for fun,” said Munday, adding that Barnett came back after “about 15 minutes” and began pleading with him to remove the boot and let her go.

“She came out and started saying, `Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please, take it off. I’ll get in trouble.

I was only here to get my mail,’ ” Munday recalled.

Munday removed the boot and let Barnett go on her way, he said, explaining, “I let people off now and then, if people seemingly make an honest mistake, or if they have some kind of extreme circumstances. I’m a softie.”

A check with the parking enforcement office at City Hall revealed that Barnett was not acting in violation of department rules, which forbid parking officers from parking illegally on public streets but do not cover private parking lots such as the lot at Mill Street Station, where Clark’s Market is located.

“It’s a private lot over there,” said parking supervisor Rich Ryan. “She didn’t do anything illegal” and will not face any disciplinary action, he said.

In fact, Ryan said, Munday was acting improperly by booting the vehicle, because “you can’t just impound an official vehicle.”

But, Ryan added with a chuckle, he is not contemplating any official action against Munday, adding, “I understand it was done as a joke. I don’t think it was done with any malicious intent.”

As for the members of the public who were watching, Ryan said, “I hope they’ll understand. We don’t want to portray anything that indicates we feel we’re different from anyone else. Because we’re not.”

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