Fayetteville, N.C. — Evetta Jackson may have an unpopular job, but she does it with a smile. Jackson is a parking enforcement officer for the city of Fayetteville.
“We’re not the most loved, but I understand. It’s a job giving people tickets all day. That’s why we’re trying to change it,” Jackson said.
Officers say they actually dispense more than just tickets.
“We give directions. We tell people how to find things,” Officer Wes Black said.
Black and Jackson are also considered city ambassadors. They are certified by the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The three parking officers who work downtown took an 8-hour class, and passed a test, on the history and attractions of the area.
“Then throughout the year, you have to go to the attractions so you’ll be up to date on what’s going on at the attractions,” Black said.
On days when the wind is calm, parking officers will be wearing smiley-face balloons on their wrists.
Black, who’s been an officer for about seven years, doesn’t much care for the balloons: “If they improve the image, OK, but they are annoying,” he said.
On windy days, they’ll choose another symbol intended to make people smile. On Friday, officers wore shamrocks on their backs in honor of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday.
“We want to get away from the bad image we have of only giving parking tickets, because we do a lot more than that,” Black said.
Jackson said it’s important that they have a good rapport with people in downtown. “We’re not trying to scare people off, that if you come downtown you’ll get a ticket,” she said. “Ask us anything, we’re here to help you.”
Both Black and Jackson said they walk 10 to 15 miles a day. Jackson figures she issues about 20 tickets daily.