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New police officer to enforce parking, leash laws

Been ticketed lately for parking illegally near Tully’s while grabbing a cup of coffee? Find a ticket on the windshield for parking in the restricted zone near the high school?

For the past month, Mercer Island Police Department’s newest addition, Kim Druktenis (pronounced Druckt-ennis), has begun ticketing for violations of the Island’s previously unenforced parking regulations. Residents can expect to find her writing tickets in restricted parking zones, such as the neighborhood surrounding the high school, the Town Center, the boat launch and, of course, the cul de sac at the end of the Sunset Highway near Tully’s.

“You’re going to be ticketed if parking there,” Druktenis said. “I’m out every day and it’s not just on a reported basis anymore.”

Before Druktenis came aboard, the city only enforced parking violations if a call was made to report it. Now, the department will have Public Support Officer Druktenis actively seeking violators and ticketing them.

City Council approved funding for the position last fall after passing a set of new leash laws and to help curb the increasing problematic parking situations downtown and near the high school. After a brief training period, Druktenis hit the streets in early May. Her main focus on the job will be to enforce parking regulations in the morning, or during school hours, and patrolling the parks for leash-law violations in the afternoon.

Before coming to the Island, Druktenis was a correctional officer at the Issaquah jail for about seven years.

“After all the background and interview work was completed, we selected (Druktenis) because of her work experience as a correction’s officer with Issaquah Police Department, her excellent knowledge of correction’s related work, her ability to organize and juggle different tasks and her maturity level, which is necessary in a multifaceted job such as PSO,” Cmdr. Leslie Burns said of the MIPD’s decision to hire Druktenis over the 10 other applicants.

Druktenis said she applied for the job because it was a new position in the police department that was more independent, would enable her to get outside more and have different responsibilities than what she had at her previous job. She also said the hours of the shift on Mercer Island were more appealing than the 10-hour, day or night shifts at the jail.

To help prevent unnecessary or accidental ticketing, Druktenis said permit holders should place them in the rear window of the vehicle so she can easily see them while driving past.

“If they’re all in one place or the same place it is real helpful,” she said. “Otherwise I may have to look all around a vehicle for it. The other day I searched all over a car for its permit and then finally found it lying on the dash board. If I hadn’t found it, I was just about to write a ticket.”

She also said that homeowners in restricted parking zones should know she cannot check license plates from her vehicle to find out if it is registered to someone who lives in the neighborhood. “I don’t always know if the car’s owner lives there or not,” she said. “I can try to knock on a door to ask, but sometimes nobody answers or isn’t home.”

Druktenis carries a firearm but isn’t a fully commissioned officer, which means she cannot make arrests. Non-commissioned police typically work as correction’s officers and receive a different type of academy training. One of her main duties includes transporting offenders arrested or appearing in court on Mercer Island.

Druktenis is trained to use and carry the firearm, however, and will do so to protect herself like the other MIPD officers.

Druktenis, 43, has four children and has lived in Bellevue since 1973. Before coming to the Northwest she lived in California and is a native of Modesto, a farming community in the state’s Central Valley.

In addition to enforcing the new leash law this summer, she will be checking the boat launch regularly the next few months to make sure users are paying the launch fees. Her duty to enforce such minor offenses allows other officers to spend their time on more pressing public safety issues.

“They did a lot of work on the leash law and I hope to make their efforts worthwhile,” Druktenis said. “This way patrol officers can do what they are supposed to do.”

For information on restricted parking zones and the new leash laws, go to www.mercergov.org.

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