Parking in the Park: Valley Police Department, August 1989
The two things that will piss off a citizen more than anything else, is to impound their dog, or write them a parking ticket.

One thing I learned during my sixteen years in law enforcement. The two things that will piss off a citizen more than anything else, is to impound their dog, or write them a parking ticket. Maybe it’s because they aren’t there to “participate” in the process. It’s like this anonymous cop snuck over and snatched their dog, or secretly put this piece of paper under their windshield wiper. If you arrest someone, or pull them over for a traffic offense, they don’t like it, but they get it! They are there to participate firsthand why whatever enforcement action is taken. Over those years, I probably received more hate mail and verbal threats over parking tickets!

I was an early adopter of carrying a recording device with me. Long before dash cams and body cams were invented, I carried a micro cassette recorder in my shirt pocket. It was turned on for every, and I mean every official contact I made without exception! As a result, I got a lot of threats on tape. It was also the best $25 dollar insurance policy I ever invested in. (An honest cop never needs to worry about being recorded.)

In the Omaha suburb of Valley, Nebraska during the 80’s and part of the 90’s our Mayor had three important priorities. His number one project was the City Park. It was a fine park, and he was rightly proud of it. Next, was illegal parking. If a vehicle was illegally parked, and there was not a ticket on it, the Mayor would hunt you down to find out why! (A parking ticket in this city was a bargain at $5 bucks a piece! I can think of places where you’d pay more than that in fees just to legally park!) Finally, was the policy on alcohol and drug abuse, in which we had a no tolerance policy. No warnings were ever issued for drug and alcohol violations. Only arrests and citations. Period! (I’ll write more about drugs and alcohol in another story.) So look at it this way, if you were drinking in an illegally parked car in the City Park, you were going to receive some form of behavior modification from the local policeman.

I found that the first thing to do when starting your tour of duty, was to proceed straight to the City Park and get all the parking tickets done right away. This way, you didn’t have the brass getting into your face, and the universe stayed in balance.

On this particular 3:00 to 11:00 Saturday Evening Shift in August, I was in a bad mood. The previous night’s shift had been a long one, and I hadn’t got much sleep. I had an argument with my wife before I departed for work, and was still going over that in my head. On top of all that, it’s miserably hot and extremely humid, while I’m wearing a dark blue uniform shirt over a Kevlar bullet proof vest. True to form, I complete all my beginning of the shift paperwork, call in 10-41, (On Duty,) and proceed straight to the City Park to get all the parking tickets out of the way.

In this one particular parking lot at the park, there is front-end-in parking around a small center island, with several, very clearly posted No Parking Signs along the outside curb of the lot. Here, I find about six cars parked illegally. So I grab my ticket book, and start to write…

The Black Line incates an island or "front stop" for angled, front end
parking. The Red Line indicates a posted No Parking Zone along
the outside curb, or lot boundry.

Somewhere to the west from the ball diamonds where a softball tournament is in progress I hear a male voice shouting, “Hey! Hey You! I’m talking to you, you son-of-a-bitch!” I know this is being directed at me, but I’m ignoring it as a police officer’s peace cannot be disturbed. None the less, the tape recorder goes on. The shouting’s getting louder as this guy is coming closer… Finally, I have this drunken guy, (whom we will refer to as Mr. Findell,) and three of his drunk buddies come approaching me. He says, “Didn’t you hear me? I was yelling at you!”

“Oh yes… I could not help but hearing you,” I replied.

“You’re going to write me a written warning..!” This was not a request from Findell, it was an order.

“I’m afraid you’ve already had a written warning. See all these signs? Particularly the one right next to your car that says, No Parking? “ I explain…

“That’s BULLSHIT!” Findell retorts. This parking lot was built for parking around the outside!” (If the City hand intended parking around the outside curb, the City would not have posted a No Parking Zone around the outside curb…)

I finish writing the ticket, and go to hand it to Findell. He just crosses his arms and just glares at me… I turn around, place the ticket under the wiper, and start to head back to the patrol car, when Findell shouts, “GET FU**ED!!!” I calmly turn around, walk up to the No Parking Sign, and twist it around so Findell and his friend can clearly see it…

“What ARE YOU, some sort of a fu**ing illiterate!” as I let go of the sign and it snaps back making a wud-da-da-da sound… Findell and his pals just stare at me with their moths hanging open because the policeman just said a naughty word..!

I calmly get into the police car. Make my log entry, and quietly pull out of the parking lot. But I know… I just know this guy is going to make a complaint against me, so I might as well go see the Mayor and let him know it’s coming.

When I arrive at the Mayor’s house, he’s sitting on his front porch with a big grin on his face. As I approach, I say, “I expect you’ve had a phone call from Mr. Findell?”

“Why yes, I have… “ the Mayor replies. “You know I don’t condone my Officers using profanity when dealing with the public?”

“Yes. I’m aware of that,” I explain. “But this guy found my button, and pushed it real hard!”

The Mayor asks, “Did you get it on tape?”

“Yes Sir. Would you like to hear it?”

“No, no… I know you're good for it. Just don’t let him get your goat again... And just for the record, Findell IS a Fu**ing Illiterate!”

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