There are so many stories we read about, hear and witness, but there is one enforcement division that just doesn’t get enough attention.
I’m talking about parking enforcement officers. These officers work for police departments all across America and almost never get the recognition they deserve.
During the course of the week, on patrol, whether it’s in lots that require permits, train stations, hourly parking on streets, loading zones or handicap locations, the PEO is covering a vast amount of territory and dealing with the general public in a serious way.
Dealing with people is always a serious matter, and at times, even with strict rules that are in effect, people can lose control of their temper or even go to extreme measures of confrontation over a simple parking summons.
In fact, there have been times when individuals have become so irate over a warning that was given, simply because they were under the impression that a ticket that accompanies a fine has been issued.
Do we get harassed? Of course we do.
Does it at times get intense? You bet it does.
There’s never a dull moment and every day is different. What is the motive for it? Where does it come from? At times, a person will try to pull you into a verbal confrontation, and the real test begins. That’s where discretion and wisdom are vital.
Even in this capacity, professionalism and wisdom go along way, and you must be able to respond correctly in the heat of the moment.
I have a simple saying: “What you pour out in a community, will ultimately be poured in.”
The goal is to be positive in every way.
Motorists today can often get more frustrated with parking violations than traffic violations because they have not had the opportunity to plead their case. In most cases, individuals come to their vehicle with a summons already issued, and if they see the enforcement officer anywhere in the vicinity, that’s when the sparks fly.
In fact, in my experience as a PEO, individuals have become so distraught and have vented their anger because they did not take the ordinances seriously. Or in some cases, they assumed that they would never get caught. It’s the hidden enforcement that plays a pivotal role in communities and significantly helps with keeping community parking in compliance.
Unfortunately today, many people have found the orange rectangle on their windshield, and when that comes in sight, the game changes significantly. There is a bright side to all of this though, and I’m not referring to the color of the ticket.
There’s an impact that is made in the community in a positive way through how an officer relates to the public. When the community can see and recognize that you have a mindset not just to issue a summons, but rather a desire to help bring understanding regarding the laws, and at times showing grace and serving, people will change their mindset and reactions will be more favorable in the heat of the moment.
Even with this type of work, there are so many ways the officer can be a light in a dark place. How that is achieved is operating in a capacity that shows you are working with them – not against them.
In closing, I can say that there have been may scenarios that came forth during a shift of mine that have become very rewarding. When people see you have a valued interest in their life, everything changes. That’s just one piece of the puzzle that can help facilitate great change in a community. So the next time you see a PEO on the street, know that their job isn’t as simple as it looks. They are just the hidden officer behind the scenes.
For more information regarding USLEO, please visit, www.usleo.org