A particular traffic enforcement agent, cited by a number of angry citizens, has gone as far as to describe himself as a “police officer” and falsely said the ticketing was at the behest of specific community organizations such as Community Board 11 and the Morris Park Community Association.
“Every once in a while, there’s a rogue agent who thinks of it as us against them,” said John Fratta, district manager of CB 11.
Two tales of woe brought to the community board’s attention illustrate such concerns.
“I dropped my daughter off at Enrico’s, and I see this Impala behind me,” said Kathy Campagna, one of the agent’s vocal victims. “I moved to the corner, and the car cut me off, slamming on the breaks. He could have caused a severe accident.”
The Matthews Avenue resident contends she could’ve pulled into an open spot but not needing to park, left it open.
As the agent left the unmarked car, Campagna recalled telling the agent, whom she said identified himself as Sergeant McKenna, that she was just dropping someone off. “He said, ‘Well, you were a minute too slow.’”
Campagna said that after the incident, she went directly to the 49th Precinct and complained. She asserted the agent said he was a police officer, and when she questioned his reason for ticketing, he told her the community board requested it.
“When I said I’ll go to the community board and check, he said, ‘No, wait, it was the Morris Park Community Association.’”
Dennis Wales was with wife Rachel and daughter Shavon on Morris Park Avenue when the rogue agent struck again.
“It scared me because I’m a heart patient,” Wales said. “It looked like a raid.”
Dennis double-parked his car for no more than a minute in an effort to let his wife take over the driving when the traffic agent swooped in.
“It was ridiculous, this guy was a nut job,” Fratta said about the man’s outrageous behavior, also furious about the displaced blame put upon the community board by the agent.
“They’re inciting people,” Fratta said. “You have to enforce the law, but they’re acting unprofessionally and it’s outrageous.”
He joined 49th Pct. Community Council president Joe Thompson expressing concern over asserting police officer status.
Thompson, who is also the CB 11 chair of economic development, saw the importance of traffic enforcement agents, but also spoke of reasonable treatment to local shoppers.
“We wanted double parking strictly enforced around schools, because it’s dangerous for the kids.” Thompson said. “But we don’t want to chase all the shoppers off Morris Park, and you don’t want people to fear getting in and out of their car.”
The Morris Park Community Association was also angered by their organization’s misrepresentation. “They constantly use our name for convenience,” Al D’Angelo, president of the MPCA, said, “We would never do that to our neighborhood. It’s so hard to park in the community. We’re not asking [traffic enforcement agents] to give parkers a break, but use discretion, and some common sense.”