I asked that question at a seminar filled with on street parking managers and enforcement officers. After a lot of hemming and hawing, it came down to this:
The PEO is Judge, Jury, and Executioner, all rolled into one. When a person get a parking ticket, most of the time they don’t even see the officer who gave the ticket. There is no way to plead one’s case. The deed is done.
Sure they can go to an appeals board, where 90% of the tickets are affirmed. You have taken time off from work, waited in line, explained your case, and you lose. In most cases you have already paid the fine, so even if you win, its weeks before you get your money back. I some cases, you have to pay the ‘court costs’ up front before you are heard, and even if you win, you don’t get that back. Its no wonder that PEO’s are hated.
At least when you get a speeding ticket, you face your accuser. You can have a conversation with a human being. Sure you most likely will lose, but the site of your very pregnant wife in the seat next to you might mitigate that 10 MPH over the speed limit. The CHP has babies too.
If the light turns red just as you enter the intersection, you can talk to the officer about it and in many cases get off with a warning. Even if you get a ticket, sometimes the experience isn’t that horrible – On one speeding incident, I ended up joking with the officer and was written up 10 MPH under what I was actually going. (I asked him if semis were written for speeding and he said yes, if they go over 55mph. I started laughing, he couldn’t keep from laughing. I said that now that the comedy part of the ticket writing was over, could we proceed.)
When there is a traffic accident, we see the Highway Patrol out there dealing with the injured, helping get traffic around the scene, and we understand just how hard their jobs can be. When we see a PEO writing up someone who overstayed a parking meter by five minutes, we are immediately on the side of the parker. And the parker seldom sees the person who wrote the ticket.
In many cases PEOs try not to interact with those who broke the rules because they want to prevent altercations. When you are caught speeding, the officer has you dead to rights. Not much to be upset about. When you are issued a parking ticket, were you really guilty, or was the PEO just trying to get her average up?
I don’t have a solution for all this, but we need to find one. PEOs have a tough job. But do we tell their story?