RENO, NV - What if you had a job where taking abuse from the public was part of the deal?
This month, we're profiling some of the most publicly-disliked professions, and we decided to start with parking enforcement officers.
We don't know anyone who likes getting a ticket, and so our reaction -- often one of anger or desperation -- makes sense when we see parking enforcement officers hovering around our car, tucking the freshly printed ticket beneath our wipers. But there are parking rules, and someone has to enforce them. Unfortunately, that job can come with a lot of stress.
Kimberly Kline is a community service officer (the title that the City of Reno gives to parking enforcement officers). She's been enforcing parking laws for the past eight years, and she patrols the downtown area in Reno. She says conflict, disrespect, and abuse often come with simply doing her job. She points out that if there were no parking enforcement, the streets would be chaotic. Many of the people she tickets seem to forget that.
"There have been times where I had to come back to my car, and somebody and spit all over the car," said Officer Kline. "I know some of the guys I work with -- they have been spat at, or pushed over. They've been attacked. They've had to call for PD to back them up."
Kline said on top of being attacked, some of her male colleagues have also been stalked by those they've ticketed. All Kline carries for protection is pepper spray. While some people have accused the officers of ticketing to bring in more money, Kline makes it clear that they don't get paid more for the number of tickets they write. It's not easy going to a job like this everyday, but Kline says she's become more confident.
"In the beginning, I was very reserved, and I would back down to people because I almost felt guilty for writing the ticket because I'm thinking oh, what if they don't have $20?" said Kline. "But then I realized they're the ones parking there, not paying the meter, parking in the red zone, and that it was their decision that resulted in that, not mine. All I was doing was my job and so I got used to it. Now you just kind of have to laugh it off because you can't take it personal."
Kline does have a tip though. She says she can tell instantly when people are lying as she's issuing a ticket. She says you're more likely to get out of the fine, if you just tell the truth. According to www.TransparentNevada.com, parking enforcement officers made about $56,000 in 2013.