SPRINGFIELD, Mo- The news of Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt launching an investigation into parking tickets at Missouri State University has caused some excitement in Springfield.
Attorney General Schmitt announced Thursday afternoon that his office launched an investigation into the Missouri State University, Office of University Safety, for allegedly enforcing a parking ticket quota and violating Senate Bill 5 (which limits the amount of money that could be generated from traffic fines) and other related legislation.
The Attorney General’s Office learned through whistleblowers that officials in Missouri State University’s Office of University Safety allegedly encouraged officers to write an increasing amount of parking tickets, satisfying quotas of parking tickets, in order to increase funding for the department and University.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, whistleblowers contacted the office with credible information outlining their concerns. The whistleblowers were concerned that they were violating the law as they complied with the direction of their supervisors to increase the number of parking tickets, satisfying quotas of parking tickets, and increasing the number of boots placed upon cars, in an effort to further increase revenue for the University and to hire additional officers.
It was reported to the Attorney General’s Office that the Office of University Safety increased the number of hours dedicated to ticketing enforcement, directing its safety officers to spend the additional hours “solely on parking enforcement.”
In addition, the whistleblowers say, the University appears to have established ticket quotas, monitoring the number of tickets its office issue on a daily basis. Reports are that safety officers were told to “step up” their ticket counts. One supervisor appears to have told officers to “show people what we are made of.”
Missouri State has been at the center of parking drama due to students complaining that there are not enough parking spots on campus.
We talked to some students who have been gifted parking tickets by the University and who want to see better parking around campus.
“Yeah, I’ve gotten at least four or five throughout the years. Like if they have to give out a certain amount and it’s not just people that are actually just breaking rules and they know they have to give out that many it’s kinda ridiculous but there’s nothing really we can do about it if we just keep paying to go to school and we don’t say anything about it,” says MSU Senior Andy Hickerson.
“I think it’s a great investigation. I think they should fix it because me personally I think I’ve had two or three so I would like that to be looked into.”
That was Jordyn White, an MSU senior. Anthony Tolbert, a freshman, says he’s seen officers patrolling.
“I know they patrol every night because I went like a week here and they kept putting these warnings on my windshield if I didn’t get a parking pass.”
Sophomore Chloe Hampton, says that ticketing usually isn’t the University’s fault.
“I’ve heard of a lot of people getting them sometimes it’s their fault but a lot of times its just really cold and you don’t want to park really far away so they just make do. I’ve definitely done the same thing and I haven’t gotten one yet and most of the cases I’ve heard of it’s just the students are being too lax. I did have a friend that had gotten eight tickets and didn’t know how to pay them off. It could possibly be that the university is overdoing it, I don’t know.”
MSU has several areas to park on campus. Below is a map of where you can park at Missouri State.
If you ever do get a parking ticket here is what you should do based on their website. If you get a ticket and are affiliated with Missouri State then you can pay fines at the bursar’s office or mail them to 901 S. National Avenue, Springfield, MO 65897. Citation payments may also be made through your My Missouri State account.
If you are not affiliated with University you can pay at the bursar’s office or Transit Operations Center (TOC), 700 E. Elm. Citation payments may also be made through the Parking Portal.
Missouri State says you have 15 days to pay the fine, if you don’t you may be subject to:
- Encumbrance of student records and denial of the privilege to register for classes or obtain a transcript.
- Appropriate disciplinary action or other action for faculty/staff through administrative channels.
- Collection procedures and costs, including interest, attorney’s fees and withholding from final university paychecks.
Missouri State University has released a statement regarding the investigation.
Here is the full statement:
“As a university, we take great pride in providing a safe and fair environment for our students and visitors,” said President Clif Smart. “If the investigation finds that any of our practices violated the law, we will take all necessary actions to promptly correct the situation.”
The investigation launched by the Attorney General’s Office will review the information provided by whistleblowers as well as documents received from Missouri State University to determine further action.