September 13-20, 2006

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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

SCPD Works Hard To Keep SC Parking Meters Safe

After last week's column revealed that the Santa Cruz Police Department's Gang Task Force does not exist, Nūz began to wonder exactly where the SCPD is focusing its efforts these days. The answer came via an SCPD press release announcing the arrest of San Jose residents Ralph Conway and Lynn Thompson in connection with a large-scale parking meter robbery, a case that the SCPD was able to crack through "extensive investigation." Nūz assumes there were a lot of ins, outs and what-have-yous.

While visions of Paul Newman as Cool Hand Luke, drunkenly decapitating parking meters with a pipe cutter, danced through Nūz's head, SCPD reports that the meter heist was actually very "organized and methodical," involving the use of meter keys instead of the more traditional brute force.

Law enforcement also believes Mr. Conway and Mrs. Thompson to be part of a larger network of meter-thieves originating in Reno, Nevada, possibly spreading meter mayhem throughout the Central Coast and Bay Area.

Exactly how many officers and hours were spent solving this portion of the great parking meter mystery? And has the SCPD established a specialized Parking Meter Task Force, or was this extensive meter investigation, like the gang suppression efforts before it, merely an overtime opportunity for regular patrol officers looking to pick up a few extra hours?

Unfortunately, Zach Friend, representative of the SCPD, was not in his office to clear up these points, nor to field Nūz's request for a Parking Meter Task Force ride-along. (Hey, if we can't hang out with the gang squad, at least we can consort with meter maids.)

Nūz's secret source within meter enforcement was also of little help, wryly suggesting that meter ring money was being used to support gang activities, in which case, hey, problem solved!

Meanwhile, the SCPD requests that downtown and beach area patrons keep an eye out for prolonged or suspicious meter interactions. After all, parking meter safety cannot be achieved without the cooperation and communication of the whole community.

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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