Three minutes - T.J. Bathras in Baltimore's Parking division

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Local,Stephen Janis
Since the news first broke that an agent had issued fake parking citations to area motorists, the Department of Transportation’s parking enforcement division has been under increased scrutiny.
T.J. Bathras, deputy of the safety division and one of the managers responsible for making sure parking citations are accurate, explains the changes the department has implemented to prevent unwarranted parking tickets in the future.

What changes in procedures have you made to prevent agents from issuing unwarranted tickets to motorists?
One of the things we’ve trained our agents to do with the new hand-held devices, or PDAs, is to take pictures of the violation, which we can then use to verify the citation. That is part of our standard procedure.

If an agent does decide to issue fake tickets, what safeguards do you have in place to catch the agent?

With the new devices, we can monitor patterns of behavior. Before, a supervisor would have to sort through a pile of handwritten tickets, but now we can download all the tickets the agent has written and monitor what they’re doing.

There have been complaints that agents are rude to motorists. What efforts are you making to improve customer service?
We are constantly training our agents on how to better deal with the public. We use conflict resolution so then learn to handle people who are hostile or argumentative. We also have role-playing and put them through live situations.

What should a person do if they believe they received an unwarranted ticket?
I would advise citizens to contest it in court. We don’t decide guilt or innocence.
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