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Pittsburgh police to tear up parking tickets written 'erroneously'

| Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 2:42 p.m.

Pittsburgh police acknowledged an officer made a mistake on Sunday by ticketing five vehicles parked on Liberty Avenue, Downtown.

Acting Chief Regina McDonald said the motorists will receive letters of apology, and she dismissed their tickets.

“I think the residents of Pittsburgh should find some level in comfort in knowing that the police department is not above saying ‘we made a mistake' and apologizing for it,” police spokeswoman Sonya Toler said.

Toler said a Zone 2 officer, whom she declined to identify, misinterpreted signs on Liberty in front of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture that indicate parking is prohibited from “7 a.m.-7 p.m. except Sunday.”

Toler said the signs mean parking is allowed on Sundays. She declined to say whether the officer will be disciplined.

Police Sgt. Mike LaPorte, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, said the officer was new to the Downtown patrol and made an honest mistake.

“He came from an area where they didn't have a business district like that, and he was unfamiliar with the verbiage that was on the sign,” LaPorte said. “He interpreted that to be on Sundays there is no parking there at all. We all learn from our mistakes.”

Joe Wos, owner of the Toonseum on Liberty Avenue, said he worries that there is aggressive ticketing in that area of Liberty Avenue on Sundays. Other vehicles in the block received tickets for being in strict no-parking zones or in front of fire hydrants.

Wos is pleased that McDonald dismissed the tickets but said it overshadowed what he considers a bigger problem — “why they were ticketing so aggressively on Sunday, when they knew so much was going on.”

More than 400 people attended a ballet in the Wilson center, and the Home & Garden Show was held in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Staff writer Matthew Santoni contributed to this report. Bob Bauder is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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