Kansas City police attempting to tow a city councilwoman’s vehicle for expired tags on Wednesday became embroiled in an argument with her and eventually decided to leave the vehicle in place.
While police maintain they had the authority to tow the car, a department spokeswoman said the officers decided to simply write a ticket and leave the vehicle in place in order to de-escalate the situation.
The councilwoman, Alissia Canady of the 5th District, said the officers had the discretion to stop at writing a ticket and that towing a car for expired registration was excessive.
The incident occurred about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when a Kansas City parking control officer found Canady’s Range Rover parked near 1113 McGee St. and noticed its tags had expired in May.
According to police, the vehicle was ticketed and a tow truck was called. When Canady arrived, the Range Rover was in the process of being towed.
Canady asked the officer to not tow the car, arguing that the city ordinance didn’t require that.
Canady was familiar with the ordinance, she said, since she had been involved in a recent revision of it related to the streetcar. She is chairwoman of the city council’s Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee and vice chair of the Ethics and Legal Review Committee.
Canady said she accepted responsibility for the car not being registered on time.
“I take accountability. I dropped the ball. I should have registered my car, no question. But a reasonable person does not expect to get towed for that,” she said.
Eventually, the parking control officer called other police officers to the scene and Canady sat inside the car, started it, and “refused to exit,” according to police.
When other officers arrived, a police sergeant made the decision to stop the tow and ticket Canady, ending the dispute.
Capt. Stacey Graves, a police department spokeswoman, wrote in a statement released Friday that the parking control officer’s duty manual says that a vehicle parked on a city street with plates that have been expired for two months should be towed.
“It is normal police procedure (and practice) to ticket and tow vehicles that are not properly licensed, parked on city streets. KCPD has the authority to tow a vehicle with expired tags per city ordinance,” Graves wrote.
Canady said the mandate to tow in the parking control rules seemed to be at odds with the discretion allowed in the city ordinance.
If the police are typically towing cars for that, she said, it might be an excessive response, given the cost of retrieving a vehicle from impound.
“If this is how we’re currently dealing with this practice, that’s problematic, because that puts an undue burden on our residents,” Canady said Friday. “That’s crazy.”