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The Parking Professional: What is your current position with the City of Las Vegas? What do you like most about your job?
Cathy Shepard: I am currently the Parking Enforcement Supervisor, having been with the City of Las Vegas for 18 years. I have a good working relationship with my co-workers and city staff. I really enjoy the variety of concerns addressed daily.
TPP: Everyone has a unique story about how they really got into parking. What's yours?
CS: I applied for the position of Parking Enforcement Officer nearly 18 months before being hired. Six months after the initial application, I was called for an interview. Upon arriving in the parking lot for the interview, a news alert came over the radio stating that the U.S. had just declared war against Iraq. The following day, the City of Las Vegas instituted a hiring freeze. Nearly a year later, I was notified that I had been hired as a Parking Enforcement Officer. I have always considered myself very lucky, and I am grateful for my current position.
TPP: What's your biggest challenge right now in your day-to-day operations?
CS: Like many municipalities, we are facing challenging economic times - not only are we dealing with budget restraints, but we are also addressing concerns regarding reduction in staffing levels.
TPP: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
CS: Citizens believe our primary focus is revenue generation, when, in fact, our primary goal is to provide a "turn over" in close, available parking for all those in need.
TPP: What's the most interesting parking story you can share?
CS: This is not my story, but one that a co-worker shared at the end of a work day several years ago. While doing routine enforcement on his assigned beat, he cited a car parked in a fire lane. As the day wore on, he issued at least two more citations to the same vehicle for fire lane and handicap parking violations. The driver of this vehicle eventually flagged down this officer and asked him two questions: "Does the citation go to the owner of the vehicle or the driver?" and "Where is the closest handicap parking space?" The officer's response to the first questions was that violations are assigned to the vehicle and, knowing he had already issued hundreds of dollars worth of citations on this vehicle earlier in the day, thought it odd that he was looking for another handicap parking space. He asked, "Do you have a handicap placard?" thinking he would void the citation if the driver could present a valid placard. The driver of the vehicle stated he did not, so the officer asked, "Why are you looking for a handicap parking space when you have no placard and you have already received two tickets today?" He stated, "My divorce becomes final tomorrow and the judge has ordered me to turn over the family car to my ex-wife at that time. I'm racking up as many parking tickets as I can so she can deal with the aggravation."
TPP: What advice would you have for someone just getting into or looking to get into the parking profession?
CS: If you are an enforcement officer, this is a difficult public contact job. No one likes getting a parking ticket, so don't take the criticism personally.
TPP: With the 2010 IPI Conference & Expo coming to Las Vegas in May, do you have any recommendations for what people need to see?
CS: Las Vegas is a year-round tourist destination and has long been known as the entertainment capital of the world with too many points of interest to list. Having worked in the downtown area for many years, I am somewhat biased and prefer the friendly, more family-oriented atmosphere of downtown. The Fremont Street Experience offers a canopy of lights that spans five city blocks featuring light shows nightly starting at dusk. Another feature in the corporate city limits is the Stratosphere Tower that hosts the tallest free-standing observation tower in the United States. Take the elevator to the top of the tower and enjoy a spectacular view of the entire Las Vegas Valley. It is really an unbelievable sight after dark. However, on the famous Las Vegas Strip there are world-renowned casinos that feature some of the best stage productions, entertainment and dining establishments in the world. And if you are looking for a day trip, Hoover Dam, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is only 30 miles south in Boulder City. And, of course, you are visiting a city that never sleeps so 24-hour gaming is always available.
TPP: How has IPI benefitted you in your career?
CS: Each time I have attended the IPI Conference & Expo, I enjoy walking the show floor - seeing the latest technology and newest product lines is of interest to me.
TPP: Who is the biggest influence in your life? In your work?
CS: In my personal life I must say my husband, children and grandchildren. In my professional life, I have had three close friends and mentors over the years. All three have now moved on to "bigger and better" things: one retired, one accepted a promotional opportunity within our department, and one is now the Chief of Detention and Enforcement! All have had a huge impact on my management style.
TPP: What is something about you that might surprise people?
CS: Even though I spend my entire day dealing with the public, I am somewhat of a loner.