CITY HALL — A running feud between Chicago Police and city workers who write parking tickets — known as parking enforcement aides — has gotten so bad that city leaders are now trying to iron things out, a watchdog report issued Thursday says.
The quarterly report from Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said an investigation into a "public screaming match ... between a PEA and a sworn police officer" laid bare "the existence of a more widespread discord" between the city's Police Department and the Finance Department employees.
There are more than 1,300 enforcement aides in the city, the majority of whom are hired on a monthly basis.
According to the report, "There is a perception of a rivalry between PEAs and police officers," a perception "shared by both sides and supported by online commentary."
Ticket writers, it added, feel targeted for abuse by police officers, who appear to feel the PEAs "unnecessarily saturate areas with enforcement." It detected the conflict in "certain or all districts."
At one point, the conflicts prompted Finance Department supervisors to tell their ticket writers to "avoid police officers while on duty," the report stated.
The "acrimonious institutional relationship" led the city's Inspector General's Office to call for a high-level meeting between the Police and Finance departments. They were urged to "clarify respective roles, acknowledge their common mission, work together in mutual recognition of shared values" and defuse "any further incident or escalation of tensions."
According to the report, city officials arrived at a plan that "strengthens their partnership and results in better service to the public." But it doesn't appear to fully settle the issue, as police officers and ticket writers are urged to report to supervisors if any new disagreement arises.
"This minor dispute over parking was resolved quickly, and both departments have moved on to focus on more important issues," responded mayoral spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier.
The notoriously snarky and anonymous Second City Cop blog has made reference to ticket writers ignoring violations for certain cars and has railed at their getting resources that might better serve police.
"As the manpower shortages continue to leave police running from job to job and unable (or even unwilling) to perform ticket-writing duties, we expect a bigger shift toward 'revenue' writers rather than police," the blog claimed.
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