The Memphis Police Department isn't the only organization handing out parking tickets downtown these days. The Parking Enforcement Technicians (PETs), a new group created by the city's engineering division, began ticketing illegally parked vehicles this month.
Six PET officers travel the downtown and Medical Center areas on foot looking for vehicles parked at expired meters, in no-parking zones, in loading zones, in fire lanes, and in front of fire hydrants.
"We had a study done a couple of years ago and it showed that we had a 25 percent compliance rate with the paying of meters. Industry standard is about 75 percent," said city traffic engineer Richard Merrill. "Our division director went to Charlotte, North Carolina, and saw how their program worked, and when he came back, we set one up here."
PETs are giving special attention to cars parked on Madison along the trolley line. Merrill said illegally parked cars often interfere with trolley operations.
The Police Department will continue to give parking tickets as well. If a PET officer notices a ticket on a car, the date on the ticket will be checked before the officer leaves another one. Unless the ticket has an older date, cars will not be double-ticketed. The tickets are identical to those issued by the Police Department. Fines are handled through the court clerk.
PETs currently work only during the day, but Merrill said they may expand their hours in the future.