Are Parking Enforcement Officers at Risk?


Are Parking Enforcement Officers at Risk?

I received the following email this morning. Hard on the heels of Dallas and Baton Rouge, the topic seems one that could use some discussion — feel free to comment here. I am posting his words without comment, I don’t think his piece and be improved.

 I am the parking manager for the City of Dubuque in Iowa. Just wondering if you have any information or if there is a blog out there where one can glean some knowledge regarding the safety of parking officers. I know this e-mail comes to you on the heels of some horrific events, but it does bring to the fore front a lingering concern about the safety of these people doing parking enforcement. Many, many times, people seem to be far more angry at one of the parking officers than at police in general. I happen to be a retired sheriff deputy of several years before coming here, now for almost 16 years. John I know I am preaching to the choir with this, but is there some data out there on how many agencies arm their parking officers.

Whether it be merely pepper spray, cuffs, stun gun, or actual firearm. I, as I am sure all managers, are worried about the safety of their parking officers. I know Dubuque is not a big hitter when it comes to trend setting in the parking industry and I am sure you get more bang for your buck dealing with the bigger cities but us smaller agencies do very much appreciate your ability and willingness to access various work groups and agencies to assist smaller communities.

I am telling you that I fear these individuals doing parking enforcement could be a target as they fall into the categories of 1. government, 2.
enforcement, and 3. parking enforcement infuriates people so much. We owe it to them to make their position safe and to provide them with the tools to help with that end result.

Having said all of this, I am surely not a proponent of arming parking enforcement officers. Just more curious what other managers feel and how they are evaluating the risk and subsequently resolving to the best they can that same risk.

Tim Horsfield
City of Dubuque
Parking Division Manager
830 Bluff Street
Dubuque, Iowa 52001

Thanks Tim, JVH

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

6 Responses

  1. I believe they are definitely at risk. When I was enforcement, people thought I was police, because of the police type uniform. It happened as I drove to work everyday…people would slow down and one person even picked up trash she had thrown out at a stop light. With angry customers on top of the misconception that we are law enforcement of some type, it should be concerning. I hope that all Parking Directors and Managers take heed and realize that enforcement officers are out there without ANY recourse if someone were to attack them. Give them the tools they need to protect themselves against danger, give them training to handle any type of attack and allow them the same right-to-defend as law enforcement has. There are non-deadly tools that at least give them a chance to deter or defend, such as an ASP or pepper spray. Sadly, security officers face the exact same threat as parking enforcement does: lack of protection, training and tools to protect themselves. This is a crisis situation…as firemen and first responders are under fire as well.

  2. Wow, that’s something to think about. I will be starting my new position as a Parking Enforcement Officer in Michigan, but I guess we’ll be well trained when we finish our class. I know people can’t stand “PEO’s”, but hey it’s a job that we must do. So, I hope they change the law for PEO’s it’s dangerous out there. Well, I’ll let God Handle it.

  3. I am a retired police officer residing in NJ. A few years ago I came back full time as a parking violations officer and have encountered several situations with the public where I felt threatened and on occasion had to call for assistance. I maintain a current RPO (Retired Police Officer permit to carry a firearm) and carry concealed most of the time but was denied while working as Parking Violation Officer, as it conflicted with my job description. Keep in mind that I am 27+ year veteran, retiring in supervisory position. I guess one of my biggest concerns is not just dealing with the public but stumbling onto crime in progress, example . . . walking into store for cup of coffee while robbery in progress, armed suspect identifying me as police officer due to uniform, and well you know the rest. Due to training and extensive experience in law enforcement you would think a waiver would be available permitting me to carry in my current duties as a parking violations officer. Not necessarily for enforcement measures but primarily for personal protection and protection of others if need be. I welcome your thoughts on this topic.

  4. I am a parking control officer in the field going on 13 years. I have encountered angry drivers, mostly out of state truckers, since I enforce in a truck-stop town in the county area of Los Angeles . I’ve had my work car struck several times intentionally on occasion, with one guy even approaching my driver side and slamming the glass window with his ringed fingers in an attempt to smash it. At least twice drivers have been taken off to jail for assaults during my shift.
    About a year ago we were issued bullet proof vests to wear under our uniforms, but no mention of firearms was discussed. A pepper spray canister is as far as arming us goes..
    We are high risk soft targets for any group out there with a grudge against law enforcement , of which there are many. It would be a large step in the right direction if weapons training would be given to parking control officers , and amending the laws to allow us to carry on duty.

  5. If you had a weapon and felt threatened, what would you do with it? Shoot the other person? Wave it to frighten them off? How did we as an industry get in this position in the first place?
    Is there no way to alter perception?


  6. Of course deadly force would have to be justified. Wouldn’t use deadly force against someone who is just a physical menace or has no weapon or possess the means to place your life in imminent danger or death. Let’s just think about the most recent situation in Phila Pa where the parking officer was shot. This of course would have been the example for him to protect his life …. deadly force justified.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Only show results from:

Recent Posts

A Note from a Friend

I received this from John Clancy. Now retired, John worked in the technology side of the industry for decades. I don’t think this needs any

Read More »

Look out the Window

If there is any advice I can give it’s concerning the passing scene. “Look out the window.” Rather than listen to CNN or the New

Read More »


See all Blog Posts

Send message to

    We use cookies to monitor our website and support our customers. View our Privacy Policy