Dayton mayor on towing reforms: ‘We don’t want to fee people to death’

Aerial view of Sandy’s Towing lot in Dayton. The city contracts with Sandy’s for towing vehicles with outstanding tickets. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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Aerial view of Sandy’s Towing lot in Dayton. The city contracts with Sandy’s for towing vehicles with outstanding tickets. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Citizens who park in the wrong places in Dayton usually have to make two stops to pick up towed vehicles.

But in an attempt to be more “customer friendly,” the Dayton Police Department is helping set up a one-stop tow center that it says will mean nearly nine in 10 people won’t have to come downtown to get their cars, trucks and motorcycles back.

The change seeks to fulfill a promise Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley made in her State of the City address to reform the city’s towing practices to be less burdensome.

“It’s a small but important thing,” the mayor said. “We don’t want to fee people to death.”

The Dayton Police Department also says it will work to reduce the number of vehicles that are towed in the city.

MORE: Dayton mayor: Getting towed vehicles back needs to be easier

The Dayton City Commission at its most recent meeting approved modifying the city’s contract with Sandy’s Towing to update some policies about releasing towed vehicles.

The police department is changing its towing practices to make it easier on citizens to recover their vehicles, said Dayton police Lt. David Matthews, administrative services bureau commander.

Most citizens have to visit the Dayton Safety Building at 335 W. Third St. to get a release for their vehicles before they can head to Sandy's Towing at 1541 S. Broadway St., which is about 2.5 miles away.

But the police department is helping establish a one-stop tow center at Sandy’s that will eliminate the need to visit the safety building in about 86% of cases of towed automobiles, Matthews said.

Right now, Sandy’s only directly releases about 45% of its towed vehicles, which happens when they are held for “safe keeping” after being involved in an auto accident or when they were removed at the owners’ request, officials said.

About 3,000 additional tows would be eligible to go directly to Sandy’s for retrieval, Matthews said.

MORE: Nearly 9,000 vehicles dropped from Dayton tow list

Only vehicles with a detective hold will need a release from the police department’s records section, he said. Holds are put on vehicles that were used in a crime or contain evidence in criminal cases.

“That’s just to ensure the detectives no longer need the vehicle for the crime,” Matthews said. “All other tow types can go directly to Sandy’s to retrieve their vehicle.”

Tow fees can add up quickly, said Matthews, and the police department is changing its policy to only hold towed vehicles related to misdemeanor, nonviolent crimes for a maximum of 15 days unless an extension is approved by a supervisor.

Up until this point, these vehicles could be held indefinitely.

The Dayton Police Department through policy changes will strive to reduce number of vehicles that are towed in the city, Matthews said.

The department also will reduce the length of time vehicles are held for investigative purposes and will try to alleviate the hardship for crime victims whose cars were towed, he said.

Citizens should not have to take multiple buses or make multiple trips to get their vehicles back, because having a vehicle towed already can be disruptive to their lives and can put their livelihoods at risk by removing the way they get to work, the mayor said.

“We are in the midwest, where people need cars to get their jobs,” Whaley said.

Sandy’s modified contract with the city is for $2.6 million and will run through the end of 2025.

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