Give a little…or WW III


Give a little…or WW III

According to a story I read on our Facebook Page, a New Jersey woman spit on an enforcement officer when he told her that he couldn't do anything about a ticket and to take it to court. Read about it here

The woman was arrested and charged with harassment.

According to the denizens of the PT Facebook Page this could have been expected from some of the wild folks who inhabit the Garden State. Sorry, but I'm still not so sure. If the woman was a tad out of control, who is to say that the enforcement officer wasn't, too. Let's build a scenario since we don't know what really happened.

Woman gets a ticket for being two minutes late back to her car – The officer that had written the ticket was still in the area so it couldn't have been too long. She runs up to him and demands that he rescind the ticket. He says "after the ticket is written, I can't rescind it, take it to court."

What he is saying is that if she had been there before he started writing, there may have been a way to change the outcome. He is also inferring that if she takes it to court, she will have a different outcome. So on one hand he is saying he can do nothing, but on the other he is offering hope that someone else will help her. Of course to do that, she has to take a day out of her life and go to court and fight it. All this is running through her mind and that hot blooded NJ style took over.

I know, I know – I always take the side of the parker (not true) but here is what I think.

We need to become more customer friendly. Let's face it, if a person comes upon an officer just writing a ticket (remember the lawsuit in Chicago) from their point of view it is prima facie evidence in their mind that they were "just a few seconds" late and don't deserve the citation. Of course we know that the meter could have been expired for two hours before the officer got there, but that's another issue. From the point of view of the parker, they have been shafted by the enforcement officer and potential expectoration is on the horizon.

My suggestion is that we give the officer the ability to change the citation into a warning if they do so within say 15 minutes of its writing. The warning could be worded such that it would turn back into a citation if another ticket was written within say the next six months or if they had had a citation within the last six months. This would catch habitual offenders. As a follow up, a nicely worded brochure could be mailed to the person with parking info and suggestions to make their parking experience a better one, and perhaps a few bon mots on why we have enforcement and how it helps create parking space, etc etc etc. Let's face it – if you walk up to your car 45 minutes after a citation is written, you really have little to complain about. You are guilty and you know it. If you are two minutes late, you think about those two sentences you spoke as you left your meeting, or the stroll through the newsstand rather than the race to the car.

What does this do, beside ensure that the uniform of the enforcement officers are kept clear of spitum? It creates a sense of customer service. Providing parking in downtown areas is a business, a paid for service. If we treat parkers like customers, we can give them the benefit of the doubt, just like one would do in a shop. Service, that's what it's all about.

In the case above (and in Chicago) instead of the incident disintegrating into WWIII, we have a nice, pleasant conversation, good feelings on all sides, and perhaps a person who will tell the story to their friends about how nice the parking folks are in New Jersey….Or Chicago. No more beaten enforcement folks, fewer upset parkers.

What do you think, parking pros.


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John Van Horn

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