D.C. considers deputizing citizen parking enforcers

“A proposal before the D.C. Council would allow up to 80 regular citizens, 10 in each ward, to issue tickets to vehicles parked where they aren’t allowed — blocking crosswalks, in bike lanes, in front of bus stops.” What could go wrong? [Luz Lazo, Washington Post, also Laredo Morning Times]

Still, others say most people would prefer enforcement be left to trained, public employees.

“Public officials may be far from perfect .?.?. but there is that extra layer that at least you can train them and they are likely to have the time on the job that allows them to build up their expertise,” said Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. They also have protocols to follow — and a job at stake.

“The cellphone evidence can go a long way, but it still doesn’t always tell the whole story,” he said. “A lot of times you are going to have people who are genuinely guilty and you will be enforcing the law as it was intended to be enforced. But traffic enforcement does have a lot of judgment calls.”

But Olson says he can see why the practice would be attractive to cities.

“The city gets more revenue without having to pay salaries,” he said. “The potential increase in ticket revenue would get their interest right away.”


  • What could go wrong? Someone in the wrong spot because of an accident or car broke down as a simple example. Photoshopped “evidence”. Who would want such a job except busybodies?

  • Hold on. Instead of private citizens or the government, why don’t we sell the rights to park on the street to a private company and let them do the enforcing?

    • Because DC is controlled by progressives. Volunteers are okay, but privatization is EVIL.

  • And these same busybodies wouldn’t have the sense to walk away from a confrontation because they just have to be “right” or they wouldn’t be doing this.

    Another one of those “this will not end well” ideas for a few dollars more.

  • They could call it the Standardized Ticketing and Safety Inducement program, or “STASI.”

  • A great idea, until someone objects to their car being ticketed or towed, and takes out their frustration on the volunteer civilian meter maid. Maybe some liability for the city here?

    Look, traffic enforcement employees are menaced pretty frequently (witnessed this my own self in the Bronx and Manhattan)…the only reason why traffic enforcement employees are not regularly attacked by frustrated motorists is because the police will come down hard on them…will the cops similarly protect someone who is (sort of) a scab, and not even a fellow city employee?

  • The vaunted efficiency of privatization is a plus only when the interests of the city and the citizens converge. A private contractor who shortens a yellow light phase in order to mazimize collections from a red-light camera is not necessarily desirable.

  • My “vaunted efficiency” comment was intended to reply to Matt’s “privatization is EVIL” comment.