City: Cameras may be put on DPT cars

A recent string of violence against parking enforcement officers could lead to their cars being equipped with security cameras.

City officials have been looking at ways to protect parking officers after four were assaulted in November. In one of those incidents, an officer who was repeatedly punched by an angry driver who was ticketed suffered a concussion and a dislocated shoulder. A week later, another officer was spit upon after issuing a ticket.

The head of the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees parking enforcement, said The City is in the preliminary stages of reviewing the addition of cameras to parking enforcement officer’s vehicles to document any violence.

“Unfortunately we have an element of this society that gets frustrated when they get a ticket, but there are ways to deal with the situation other than assaulting a [parking enforcementofficer],” said Nathaniel Ford, executive director of the MTA.

There have been about 30 officers assaulted this year, according to Ford, compared to 17 last year. There are more than 23,000 parking meters in The City, according to the agency, and about 10,000 parking citations are issued each year.

The cameras would be similar to ones already mounted on California Highway Patrol vehicles, Ford said.

Several cities in Europe, such as London, already use similar systems. Parking officers in London are given security escorts in dangerous parts of the city. In Scotland, the attacks decreased after cameras were installed, while London is looking for other ways to combat the violence.

The cost of outfitting the vehicles is still unknown because the proposal is still being studied, according to Ford.

In January, the agency plans to launch a public service campaign to warn angry drivers that the agency will seek every legal avenue to punish anyone who hurts officers. Ford and District Attorney Kamala Harris recently attended the court hearing of a woman who allegedly sat on an officer, causing her to suffer a concussion, after she was issued a ticket.

In addition to the cameras, Ford said the agency is looking at three other measures to protect its parking enforcement officers, including issuing pepper spray. The agency is also working with state Assemblyman Mark Leno to make it a felony to assault parking enforcement officers in any way, according to Ford. It would be the same protection given to police officers and other peace officers.

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