Risk of attack may deter officers from writing tickets, union says 

A surge in attacks on the city employees who write parking citations might be contributing to a projected 10-year low in revenue from those tickets.

A representative of the parking control officers’ union said Thursday that the officers may be "reluctant" to issue tickets because they are afraid they may be physically attacked. "They need to make it safer for people," said Lawanna Preston, staff director for Service Employees International Union local 790.

In 2006, 28 officers were assaulted while performing their duties, which include issuing citations for illegally parked cars. That was an increase from the 17 officers who were assaulted in 2005. The officers are civilian employees of the Municipal Transportation Agency.

During one week in November, four parking control officers were assaulted. On Nov. 21, 2006, one officer was hospitalized with a concussion and dislocated shoulder when a woman set upon her after she wrote her a ticket.

The officer radioed for help, and the suspect, Lina Magailalio, 30, was arrested the same day. Magailalio was charged with three felony counts of assault, battery and threats.

A few hours later, another officer was sitting in his assigned Geo Metro when the driver of a vehicle he had previously cited broke the Geo’s window and punched him repeatedly, according to the MTA. "The whole side of his head was swollen and his eye was closed. He’s pretty badly beat up," Preston said at the time.

On Nov. 27, 2006, one officer was spat on, while another was followed by a suspect who eventually confronted the officer and punched the windshield of the officer’s vehicle, shattering it, according to the MTA.

"If you’re in a situation and someone is acting really hostile toward you, after all that stuff they’ve been through, you’d think twice about giving that $20 ticket or just walking away," Preston said.

She said that even with new safety measures for the officers, such as conflict avoidance training and pepper spray, the ever-increasing price of parking tickets evokes hostile reactions more often.

Staff Writer Josh Sabatini contributed to this report.

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