When police officer Patricia Morgan walked to her parked car in Northwest Washington July 17, she was shocked, she said, by what she saw -- an orange boot had been placed on her 1979 auto by the city's Department of Transportation.
Morgan, a five-year veteran of the city force, called the department and was told that she had five outstanding traffic tickets. The tickets, totaling $60, were for violations in and around the 2100 block of N Street NW during five days in May. All were written by the same person.
Morgan, 26, said her car was not parked in the neighborhood. "I knew that something was wrong because I hadn't seen the tickets and I am the only driver of my car," she said the other day.
The booting of Morgan's auto was the beginning of a still-unresolved dispute with the city. Just Friday, Morgan's car was again booted because the tickets have been unpaid while Morgan's complaint is investigated.
"There were some sparks of possible truth in her story," said Robert Andretta, the transportation department's chief hearing examiner. However, Andretta said he is waiting for documentation of the car's location on the dates in question before resolving the matter.
Morgan says the ticket writer was trying to meet a quota.
"I don't think there is [a quota]," Andretta replied. "I am hoping that I am right."
The first ticket was written on Morgan's car May 9 at 4 p.m. Under "remarks," the ticket writer, Wanda Taylor, wrote that the auto had been parked in the 2100 block of N Street NW since noon in violation of two-hour residential parking signs.
Morgan said she parked on N Street around 10:45 a.m. May 9. She had an 11 a.m. appointment with her podiatrist at 1145 19th St. NW. According to a letter from the doctor's office manager, Morgan was in the office about 45 minutes.
Upon leaving the doctor, Morgan said she went directly to her car and left before noon. She said there was no ticket on her car when she left and she did not return to the area later that day.
The second ticket was written May 10 at 2:20 p.m. According to the ticket, the car had been parked in the 2100 block of N Street NW since 11 a.m. Morgan, who works as a dispatcher, said she was not in the area that day.
Similarly, Morgan, said, tickets were issued May 11, 14, and 17 for illegal parking in the 200 or 2100 block of the street while her car was elsewhere.
"I know I have been victimized," claimed Morgan, who said she had been so shaken by seeing her car booted on July 17 that she did not report for her tour of duty. "There are probably more [people] who have [been victimized]."
Taylor, the ticket writer, could not be reached for comment yesterday. John Brophy, director of the transportation Department's bureau of parking, said yesterday that Taylor had denied that she ever wrote any bad tickets.
Andretta said, "We get people every day who say they were ticketed wrongly." He said most complaints are unfounded. To his knowledge he said only one incident is under investigation.
Morgan's car was booted again Friday because of the unpaid tickets. Andretta said he had the boot removed "as a matter of principle until this thing is resolved."