Tackling Parking Officer Abuse with Unified Evidence

Tackling Parking Officer Abuse with Unified Evidence

Parking agencies are gathering infraction evidence more easily

About two million people are affected by workplace violence every year in the United States. Some of these people are parking enforcement officers. While out on daily patrol, parking enforcement officers are regularly subject to verbal abuse and violent outbursts when issuing tickets. In more severe cases, they may even be physically attacked, have coffee thrown in their faces or side-swiped by disgruntled drivers who get caught breaking the rules. This is why many enforcement officers are given hours of training in violence prevention, learning how to de-escalate aggressive behavior and protect themselves.

However, sometimes that training is not enough. Surviving trauma, abuse and assault on the job can often lead to an increase in absenteeism and stress, which can hurt an organization. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, nonfatal workplace assaults alone result in more than 876,000 lost workdays and $16 million in lost wages every year. Today, there’s an opportunity for university and city parking enforcement departments to keep their officers safer by equipping their team with body-wearable cameras.

Keeping Officers Safer

Once an aggressor knows they are on camera, it becomes easier for an officer to de-escalate the situation. With a push of the button, a parking enforcement officer can use body-wearable cameras to collect evidence and deter aggressive behavior. Should an altercation ensue, the parking enforcement department has the evidence they need to pursue a criminal case if required.

Because body-wearable cameras are more commonly associated with law enforcement, the system features and workflows are typically designed for police officers and their duties. With slight enhancements focused around parking enforcement tasks, body-wearable camera solutions can be just as useful to a parking officer to curb on-the-job threats.

For a long time, parking enforcement agencies have shied away from equipping officers with body-worn devices because they worried about the monumental task of managing a whole new source of evidence, often using an entirely new and separate system from their enforcement solution. It is an extremely time-consuming process to not only sort through video from body-wearable cameras and find the right evidence, but then also have to associate that video to the infraction data from a parking enforcement system.

Unification is helping to streamline this process. Today, it is possible to sync the body cameras with a system that is increasingly becoming commonplace in day-to-day parking enforcement tasks—automatic license plate recognition (ALPR). Within a unified platform, all recorded video from the body-wearable camera can be tied with the license plate reads from the mobile ALPR system.

Unifying Body-wearable Devices and ALPR Technology

Through this unified platform, handling parking enforcement tasks and staying safe become seamless to the operator. Essentially, an officer can drive around in their vehicle, searching for parking violations. As soon as the mobile ALPR system alerts them to an infraction, they can then press the record button on their body-worn device to begin documenting the issuance of the ticket and gathering more contextual evidence of the infraction itself. Should an individual cause a scene or become violent in any way, the enforcement officer could advise them of the video recording and diffuse the situation. Once their shift is over and the camera is docked at the department office, the system will automatically store all video evidence, associating each recording to the license plate read and other ALPR data.

Later, the parking enforcement manager can conduct searches using various metadata such as the license plate number, GPS coordinates, and timestamps, or by using a city or university campus map to quickly find video and information.

Capturing the Infraction Scene on Video

Investing in body-wearable technology in parking enforcement is not all about safety. Parking agencies can capture more evidence to support infractions.

For instance, if an officer is alerted to a vehicle parked in a disabled parking spot, the recording from the body-worn camera can provide an entire view of the scene. It would show the vehicle in an obvious infraction, the license plate, any signage and the missing disability parking permit. This can reduce the chances of tickets being contested, while simplifying the evidence collection and association.

The Future of Parking Enforcement

Assaults on parking enforcement officers are a growing concern for cities and universities everywhere. Body-wearable cameras are becoming a new tool to keep parking enforcement officers safer, which in turn helps to reduce stress, absenteeism and turnover.

By unifying these devices with an ALPR system during enforcement, parking agencies can further streamline the collection and association of evidence, so that if ticket disputes do come up, managers will be mouse clicks away from indisputable proof of infraction. Meanwhile, parking enforcement officers can go about their daily duties with greater confidence and ease.

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Security Today.

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