- Ticketers are watching their backs. (Photo: John Hendel)
In the District, parking tickets come with the ominous line "Assaults on parking enforcement personnel are fully prosecuted." You can see for yourself in the photo above. The line, based on a Google search, seems to have been on parking tickets in D.C. for at least a decade. Ominous.
My question: Is there an epidemic of assaults against parketing enforcement personnel? Emotions are certainly hot enough about parking tickets. I could imagine a few risks in being one.
And first off, I should note another thing: This is a great week to be a driver! Not only can you now pay for parking with your cell phone in all of the District's 17,000 metered spaces through Park Mobile but Mayor Vincent Gray is offering an amnesty on ticket late fees, starting August 1 and going through January 27, 2012, in order for the city to regain a little revenue. The city hopes to collect around $6.3 million of the $245.7 million owed in outstanding tickets through this measure. Not bad, D.C. Way to bring a little sanity to your city's crazy roads.
But what of the parking personnel? Again my thoughts turn back to that mystifying line. The D.C. department of public works handles parking tickets, so I put in a call with Linda Grant, the department's public information officer, to see if I could find some answers.
"There had been assaults on parking officers," Grant told me. "Not everyone is going to react as 'Okay, I've got a ticket.'"
The line, according to Grant, serves as a common-sense reminder to angry drivers that yes, parking personnel are as protected by the law as anyone and that they should cool their tempers. Assaults can and do lead to prosecution. I asked about how many incidents of this sort occur, but Grant wasn't able to share any specific numbers. Reports of such occasional rage exist across the country. Last year, a New York driver fractured the skull of a parking enforcement worker who was giving a ticket. What she emphasized was the reality that out of the 1.5 million tickets given last year, the number of assaults was very low and uncommon. "The majority of people behave politely," she explained.
The District's parking personnel undergo special training in order to deal with these hostile encounters, Grant said. The goal is to deescalate the rising tempers through language.
"When people do become angry, that's when the training they've received from the Metropolitan Police Department kicks in," Grant said.
Sadly, Grant wasn't able to pinpoint just when the line was added to District parking tickets. We know it's been at least since 2001 but how many years has it been since parking enforcement personnel declared no more? Still a mystery for the moment.