The next parking ticket you get might not be from a cop.
As part of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Volunteer Initiatives Program (VIP), a program, which, according to its website, is not new, the city of Houston reportedly regularly trains volunteers interested in helping out with parking enforcement on the city streets.
While you don’t actually get a badge or a sidearm, specifically, the program trains people to fight the abuse of handicapped parking spaces around Houston.
That guy who always parks his truck in the handicapped space because he doesn’t want to walk a few extra feet? They’re looking for him.
Four hours of training and a background check later, interested volunteers are empowered by the city to give people tickets for illegally parking in a disabled parking spot.
The volunteers reportedly aid Park Houston‘s staff of full-time parking enforcement officers; sometimes they discover people fraudulently using handicapped tags, but only police officers can issue official citations for such misuse, according to KHOU.
Organizers say those signed up to volunteer usually handle the area around their home, combing the area for people illegally parked on a regular basis.
During an interview, Park Houston Assistant Director Maria Irshad said she is happy for the help:
“You’re taking a space from someone that truly needs that space,” she said to KHOU regarding illegal use of handicapped parking.