Traffic Officers Are Getting A Pouncing
By Harriet Steinberg
Feb 11, 2007 - 4:39:00 PM

LOS ANGELES —Because of a growing number of Angelinos who are attacking traffic officers and officers who give out parking tickets, city officials endorsed state legislation to increase penalties for those who are involved in such violence.

The number of assaults on traffic officers has increased over the last five years. It was reported that someone took a baseball bat on an officer’s vehicle and bashed his windshield.

Assaults went from 23 two years ago to 35 last year while assault and battery cases involving weapons or physical attacks went from nine to eighteen, including one in which an attacker fired five rounds from a gun into a traffic officer’s car.

Jimmy Price, the city’s chief parking enforcement officer, stated that these kinds of situations traumatize the officers and make them reluctant to engage in their activities when they are out on the field.

Parking tickets written by Los Angeles traffic officers, who wear uniforms but are separate  from the Los Angeles Police Department, bring in $113 million annually.

“Traffic officers are a vital part of our ability to keep traffic moving,” said Councilwoman Wendy Gruel. She said that it is unfortunate that these officers are being attacked the way they have been.

Gruel cited incidents that ranged from spitting and verbal threats to physical assaults. These types of assaults are on the rise, she told the council’s Public Safety Committee.

The panel voted to endorse a bill proposed by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) that would make it a felony to strike a traffic officer. The penalty would double for those who severely assault an officer. This could lead to jail time.

The city teaches officers how to react to angry motorists so that an incident won’t get out of hand.  If a situation does become unmanageable, officers are told that they can use pepper spray.

Unfortunately, some officers who work on the night shift in Los Angeles are becoming worried about going to work.

One officer exclaimed he always wonders if he is going to come home safely.

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