The Peril for Parking Enforcement Agents

The Peril for Parking Enforcement Agents

By Stephen Owsinski

The badge-bashing influenced by hateful parties tuned to anti-law and order behaviors birthed by liberal politicos has now targeted another unformed service: Parking Enforcement Agents.

The latest examples giving rise to this article transpired in metropolis liberal-lorded cities with huge populations walking among some barbaric beings who are increasingly bold about exacting cold-blooded violence upon civil servants for merely doing the job for which they were hired.

In Philadelphia recently, on the tail of Thanksgiving Day feasts by folks exhibiting gratitude, the city of brotherly love experienced a barbaric act when a gunman circled the corner of a city street, walked right up to the left side of a Philadelphia Parking Enforcement agent slowing down to scrutinize a presumably illegally parked car. The casual-gaited gunman brandished a firearm from his pocket and unloosed a bullet into the head of a parking enforcement official.

Here’s a brief glimpse from a local Philly news station, with interviews from locals taken aback by the ghastly incident, some with how “friendly” the parking agent was to citizens, and the status of the police investigation:

Given the electronic surveillance systems stringing city streets nowadays, camera footage of the shooter is made available (warning: graphic context):

Per the Philadelphia Parking Authority, their parking enforcement agents “patrol the city’s regulated parking zones. They encourage continuous turnover of vehicles by enforcing parking regulations fairly, consistently, and thoroughly […] When on patrol, Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) are responsible for ticketing vehicles they observe to be illegally parked. This requires a thorough knowledge of parking regulations and attention to detail.”

Philly’s PEOs circulate the city equipped with a two-way radio linking them to a communications center, armed with a ticket book. And hostility comes their way…

Years ago, while recuperating from cancer treatments, I found myself tuned in to a reality television series called “Parking Wars” filmed in Philadelphia. Doing their jobs, parking enforcement personnel were begged, scolded, threatened, and nearly accosted (some that, were they to occur in Florida, would constitute arrest for assault).

As many reality tv shows go, some of the scenarios appeared over-the-top, with parking scofflaws booted and creating dramatic scenes. The show’s camera crews recorded people trying to undo those heavy metal “boots” clamped around a vehicle tire, preventing it from going mobile. As I recall, to have a parking enforcement bureau dispatch an agent to unlock the boot, all unpaid tickets had to be squared with the city officials responsible for traffic orderliness and enforcement of violators.

Similarly, a preset period before the illegally parked auto was deemed towable by city ordinances spelling out prohibitions against leaving vehicles where/when they shouldn’t, for various reasons. Department of Transportation (DoT) signs, required by law for any enforcement actions to be initiated by government officials, are erected. City buses denied safe access to loading/unloading of passengers in designated areas with posted “Bus Stop, Do Not Park” signage and painted markings monitored and enforced by parking agents.

Following is a walk-through of Seattle’s parking enforcement agents, covering the dynamics of how they do their job:

The biggest parking woes in megacities are parking meters. An expired meter means it must be fed coinage or the auto must vacate the spot…before a parking agent walks up to do his/her job.

And that is what happened in the Philly incident recently…

The parking enforcement agent was dutifully prepping to verify a parking violation before populating a citation for a violation of city code, generally a civil infraction.

Turning to New York City, we look at a uniformed parking enforcement agent being confronted by a  parking-law violator who was reportedly ticketed and chose to handle it with aggression:

Brazen much? The malignancy out there nowadays is incredibly pervasive. Anyone in a uniform, it seems, is a target of people who forgo civil discord and go straight for the jugular.

With the folly of anti-cop measures and cleaved police budgets propagated in recency, ultimately encouraging free-for-all-like behaviors, Crimes Against Justice statutes are getting ample use lately. Whether employed by a law enforcement agency (like the NYPD) or a separate entity taking responsibility for addressing parking woes (like the Philadelphia Parking Authority), the stakes are just as high as they are for sworn police officers.

In Tampa, Florida, they are referred to as Parking Enforcement Specialists and described as a person designated to enforce city parking ordinances after “successfully completing a training program established and approved by the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission (CJSTC), the same state-level authoritative body that governs all law enforcement officers in the Sunshine State, thus some equivalency is recognized.

How much equivalency compared to city cops? A job posting explained: “Satisfactory completion of a forty (40) hour training program established and approved by the Florida CJSTC under the provisions of section 316.640, Florida Statutes” (section 1 (ii) pertains to parking enforcement specialists and spells out their jurisdictional scope and conferred authority.)

Tampa’s parking enforcement specialists are uniformed city employees, not armed—similar to Community Service Officers (CSOs) who enforce parking violations.

The Tampa Police Department reported an explosion of “illegal parking” complaints and addressed over 1,700 calls in 2019, compelling the city to consider adding code enforcement officers to the regiment of those duly authorized to cite violators.

The commentary from a citizen in that brief video highlights today’s topic perfectly: some automobile operators brazenly provoke hostile interactions regarding their self-centered use of regulated parking and bicycling lanes. Any fashion of parking enforcement specialist is going to potentially be confronted by a hothead. Although many code enforcement officers tend to be retired cops now serving as civilians with authority to investigate and cite code violations, they too can be targeted parking antagonists.

Here is some footage from City of Detroit parking enforcement agents being assaulted by a woman whose car was booted. Push came to shove, and Detroit cops were called:

“When we in trouble, [cops] come fast, quick and in a hurry…and that’s a good thing!” That line caught my attention, underscoring why you are reading about this subject matter.

In New York City, they are called Traffic Enforcement Agents, handling illegally parked automobile instances and directing vehicular traffic moving in any of the five boroughs (counties) comprising the Big Apple.

Per the NYPD’s website, Traffic Enforcement Agents “keep traffic flowing and get New Yorkers where they’re going. NYPD traffic enforcement agents perform work of varying difficulty in traffic enforcement areas in New York City” and “are assigned to the Police Academy for a period of 12-14 weeks” of training before hitting the streets. (In Philly, Parking Enforcement Officers “receive extensive training about parking regulations that they enforce.”)

The only distinction between sworn police officers and traffic enforcement agents is a white cap (not blue), a different shape badge, an NYPD shoulder patch that has the designation “Traffic” embroidered atop, and the lack of firepower.

(Photo courtesy of the NYPD.)

During my last venture to Brooklyn, the cat-and-mouse game persists” car owners see the white cap strolling down the street and hastily relocate their autos around the block a time or two…until the white-capped traffic enforcement agent moves along to other streets. Sleep-ins generally receive tickets.

A widely-known protocol in NYC is “alternate-side parking” whereby parking on one side of a street is prohibited during certain days/times, situated so that street sweepers can come through, hug the curb with circulating brushes, and vacuum debris of all sorts.

The parking enforcement agent occupation is mostly in large municipalities. Smaller jurisdictions have sworn cops respond to address parking complaints lodged with their police dispatchers.

In any event, anyone donning a police-looking uniform, performing the similarly-thankless job of enforcing scofflaws, are targets of violence, compliments of a party known for defying (defunding) law enforcement, thereby fueling haters’ disdain for law and order principles, including parking regulations.

At a time when our nation experiences inflation impacts and people’s pockets are economically airy, it seems we are witnessing pushback against the potential of parking tickets issued by parking enforcement agents, largely indicative of irresponsibility and misguided angst visited upon anyone who dons attire representing authority conferred by city government regulations authored for order of all users.