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Parking officers not public enemy but valued

Parking officers not public enemy but valued members of the community – doing a job

The display of bravery by Waitakere’s Pes Fa'aui has served to high-light parking wardens as valuable members of the community, not public enemies.

Parking officers have come under fire for doing their job but they are merely enforcing parking laws and issue up to two million parking infringement notices annually.

Fa’aui’s bravery last month has given the parking officers’ image a substantial boost.

Fa’aui, a Waitakere City council parking officer, tackled a knife-wielding man in West Auckland to defuse a violent situation.

Fa’aui’s boss, New Zealand Parking Association chairman Colin Waite, said his parking officer was gutsy and brave.

``There have been many highs for our members this year but Fa’aui’s bravery has to be commended.

``This sort of thing is rare but we actually help members of the public every day out there.

``The majority of the public and other road users now accept the contribution that our officers make to road safety in general, and specifically around our schools.

``Our officers assist the elderly that may stumble on the sidewalk and we have even helped change 30 tonne truck tyres.

``We often track down stolen cars and report other incidents that may be of interest to the police.

``But we consider all of this as part of our job. Likewise with road safety issues such as school crossing monitoring, not only for the parking problems around these areas but for driving breaches that we pass onto the police,’’ Waite said.

In Rotorua this year, one parking officer detained a shoplifter and held him quite a considerable time while waiting for the police to attend.

One day five Rotorua officers spent half a day looking for an elderly man’s car because he didn't know where he had parked it.

They searched the whole of the central city between them and had come to the conclusion that the car had been stolen.

``They then called his home to get his daughter to come and pick him up, only to find he had taken the bus into town that day. His car was still parked on the front lawn,’’ Waite said.

Then there are the times parking officers have to call the SPCA because a dog is locked in a car during the summer. And parking officers are forever asked for directions.

This year one parking officer came across a man who had parked his car and then died.

Initially she thought he was asleep when she went past and marked the tyre. On her return he hadn't moved at all and she discovered that he had died.

She requested police assistance then had to comfort the wife when she returned to the vehicle.

Parking officers have also intervened in street brawls while waiting for police assistance.

One thing is certain. Parking concerns are becoming a bigger issue in New Zealand.

The use of new technology, congestion charging, toll roads and the increase in traffic in general is a result of more pressure on towns and cities.

Growing population allied to increased infill and high-rise housing will impact upon the availability of on-street parking in 2006 and beyond Waite says Parking wardens are just doing a job.

``Our officers are employees of an organisation that has various law making powers.

``They also enforce laws that are put in place by statute. It is their duty to carry out the role required of them, to subvert the various law making processes would put them in breach of their employment contracts.

``Parking enforcement staff play an important role in road safety, encouraging kerb side turnover of the limited parking spaces available, the protection of their council's assets and the offering of assistance, information and guidance to members of the general public.

``They are not the public enemy but vital members of a professional road safety team who deal with the laws as prescribed by both parliament and their councils.’’

Waite said he would like to see the Transport Act 1962 repealed and the writing of a new rule that recognises the role, function and the professionalism of the parking officer with attendant offences put in place for the obstruction, interference, impedance and assault upon a parking (law) enforcement officer.

Ends

Copyright 2005 Word of mouth Media NZ

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