September 2017 update: Via email, DPW spokesperson Heather Burke says the city is still not considering the barnacle, nor have other parking enforcement tools been explored yet. The boot is still safe for now.
When I read that there was a new hot tool in the parking enforcement world, I got a little nervous. See, I believe that the parking boot, known to some as the Denver Boot, should be revered as an object of civic pride.
That’s because this parking enforcement device was invented by Denver’s own Frank Marugg, a musician with the Denver Symphony Orchestra and an inventor. Company legend has it that the sheriff’s department came to him in 1953 for help with parking enforcement, and Marugg invented the boot.
Today, about 180 boots are part of Denver Public Works Right of Way Enforcement, and yes, they are effective at getting people to pay their ticket, said public works spokesperson Heather Burke via email.
But the new tool on the scene, the barnacle, attaches to windshields to render a car undrivable. And Fort Lauderdale is trying them out partly because they keep officers out of traffic:
“Since the ‘Barnacle’ can be installed on the front window of a vehicle from the safety of a sidewalk or curb, officers do not have to kneel down on the street, often with their backs to traffic, as they do with a boot device,” says city spokeswoman Monique Damiano. “This significantly reduces the chances of our officers being struck by passing cars.”
“Other reasons [we] wanted to test the prototype,” she adds, “are that it is quick and easy to install, easier to transport and store, and due to its compact size officers are able to carry more of the devices in their vehicles.”
Burke says no right of way officers have been involved in “any major incidents when booting a vehicle.” But next year, right-of-way enforcement “plans to explore other parking enforcement tools,” including as self-release boots, like in New York City.
But, most importantly, would Burke be sad if the Denver Boot left? Would anyone?
“Change is not always easy, but Denver Public Works is always looking for ways to increase our efficiencies and customer service!” she said via email.