- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2016

A New York City councilman is asking officials to pay back thousands of Big Apple residents who have been cited in recent years for a traffic rule taken off the books in 2009.

Democratic Councilman Vincent Gentile told New York’s ABC News affiliate Thursday that he’s approached the city’s Finance Department and Comptroller Scott Stringer in hopes of having wrongfully ticketed residents compensated after law enforcement admitted millions of dollars in citations were unnecessarily issued during the last seven years.

The New York Police Department made the admission after data analyst Ben Wellingtonwrote this week that the city had been writing tickets to motorists caught parking in front of sidewalk pedestrian ramps, even though its been permitted since a rule change was announced in 2009.

Mr. Wellington, a visiting computer science professor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, analyzed NYPD data and determined that the city had written thousands of tickets that never should of been issued, and that some legal parking spots had netted the city tens of thousands of dollars apiece thanks to wrongfully issued tickets.

Since 2009, motorists have been allowed to park in spots where sidewalks slope down to the street. In one such spot in Brooklyn, however, Mr. Wellington found more than $48,000 tickets had been issued since August 2013. According to his research, the city generated about $1.7 million annually off the same 1,966 legal spots.

The police department said it has subsequently sent a training message to officers regarding the rule change, as well as alerted the commanders in precincts where the most citations have been issued, according to a statement published by Mr. Wellington on his website Wednesday.

Mr. Wellington’s analysis identified errors the department made in issuing parking summonses. It appears to be a misunderstanding by officers on patrol of a recent, abstruse change in the parking rules,” the NYPD said in the statement. “We appreciate Mr. Wellington bringing this anomaly to our attention.”

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