“How do you sleep at night?” Darnell Brooks has heard that one a thousand times. But it doesn’t bother him; he loves his job as one of Denver’s right-of-way enforcement officers (aka the folks who write your parking tickets). Still, we wondered how it feels to be the bad guy all the time. We tagged along to find out.
Name: Darnell Brooks
Experience: Nine years
Factoid: Brooks trains Denver’s new parking- ticket writers.
What motivates you to take a job like this? I’m a people person. So when I had the opportunity, and they told me that all day I get to talk to people, I was cool. I mean, how many jobs do you know where you’re outside all day long? No supervisor—you’re out with the citizens. I decided I was going to see how many people I could get to say “thank you” to a citation. It happens a lot. I even get people saying, “I can’t believe I just said ‘thank you’ for this.”
Sounds like an amusing trick. People just want to be heard. Whatever the situation—just dropped off a kid and didn’t have time to pay the meter, or whatever—I understand. But it’s already in the system. We’re all over the city. We help a lot of people. I stopped a guy from committing suicide on the 16th Street Mall.
That’s a busy place. No one noticed something was wrong? No one wants to get involved. The people we hire want to get involved. Thursday and Friday nights, downtown is a madhouse. We see a lot of people getting jumped, and they see us and sometimes they’ll stop. We get the cops before someone gets seriously injured.
Do you have strategies for covering your beats? Our first priority is to educate. Educate, not dominate—that’s the motto in training class. If we see a citizen about to do something illegal, we let them know what they’re doing—correct them before they get the citation.
So you don’t let people park and then say: “Whoops, you got a ticket!” That is such a misconception (laughing)! This is not Philadelphia; this is not Parking Wars.
5280.com Exclusive: Three more questions for Darnell Brooks.
What’s the snazziest car you’ve ticketed? I’ve gotten a Bentley before.
Have you ever ticketed a celebrity? No. But we [the city] have had celebrities get tickets: Carmelo Anthony; I think John Elway has gotten a couple. Someone from their entourage will come out and be like: “Hey, this is such-and-such’s car.” But it’s like: “Hey, too late. Too bad.”
On average, how many tickets do you write daily? It depends on the agent, depends on the beat. Some beats are more productive than others, but it averages 50 across the board.