Tell ’em to go to Hell, but Ensure They Enjoy the Trip.

Here’s a self serving piece from NBC4 in Los Angeles that reports a shake up in the Los Angeles Parking enforcement operation. (Of course the only reason LA did this was because of a investigation the TV station did earlier last year, but I digress.)

After a number of problems including officers involved in porn shoots and arrested for shop lifting came to light, the mayor put an LAPD Commander in charge of parking enforcement. Three senior managers were replaced, a number of officers were fired or reprimanded. The quote from LAPD Commander Michael Williams:

Referring to the Bureau’s Traffic Officers, who write tickets and have a reputation for rudeness, Williams said, “We want them to be more engaging, more professional, to be more friendly” with the public.

The news report points out that there were two groups of officers in the LA parking enforcement office, those that were “in” and those that weren’t.  Those “in” were allowed to get by with most anything. You can imagine how this management style went over with the rank and file. There had to be a lot of frustration in the ranks and that frustration could easily spill over into their interaction with the public. Consistent management, like that required in a police department and the military, can make a world of difference. Sounds like Williams is the right person for the job.

LA Enforcement seems to have a different take on life in the past six months. My personal experience is that the officers are helpful, friendly, and chatty.  My observations in the four interactions I have had with them recently are that they are pros who are ‘doing their jobs’ and seem to give the benefit of the doubt, but ticket when its appropriate. (I make it a point to chat with them when I see them on the street, professional curiosity.)

Professionals who take their jobs seriously but understand the PR and marketing sides of their interaction with the public will have little problem enforcing the law. Simply rolling over as they are planning in Oakland (See post below) doesn’t solve the problem, and creates others.

Someone told me once that a great skill to develop was to be able “tell someone to go to Hell and ensure they enjoy the trip.”  No one likes to receive a ticket, but if you have positive interactions with enforcement officers in non confrontational situations, when the time comes for you to get your ticket, perhaps your anger will be directed inward, where it belongs.


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