SANTA FE – A Santa Fe woman reported a parking enforcement officer to the city police after she says he assaulted her while she tried to take his picture.
Nicole Barker, who said the incident began after she got a parking ticket near the Railyard, said she’s concerned for public safety if the parking officer remains on duty.
“It was entirely unprovoked,” the 35-year-old marketing manager of Outside Magazine said. “And I never tried to argue this ticket in any way; that’s why it’s mind-boggling.”
According to a police report, the parking enforcement officer described Barker as the aggressor, saying she became “argumentative” and struck him in the nose with her phone when trying to photograph him. Barker denies her phone hit the officer.
According to Barker, she parked in a city lot Saturday morning on Camino de las Familias on her way to a workout at Railyard Fitness. When she returned to her car just before noon, the officer was writing her a citation for not paying for a parking slip at the lot’s kiosk. “I immediately upon starting to talk to him admitted my oversight, apologized, (and) took the ticket,” she said.
She said she told him she didn’t realize it was a paid-parking lot and she intended to pay the $35 ticket. “And as I get in my car he was just going off on me,” she said. He told her she should have seen the pay-parking sign and that she better pay the ticket. She described his tone as “extremely disrespectful, hostile, mocking and belittling.”
The interaction caused her to ask for his name and badge number twice. When he refused, she said, she retrieved her phone from her car to take his picture. She said he took an “aggressive” step toward her and twisted her right arm down to her side.
“I tell him that I have every right to take a picture of a public servant in a public space,” said Barker. “He says I don’t.” He also said he planned to call the police on her, she said. She later contacted the city’s Parking Division and the police.
According to the police report, the parking officer said Barker was upset about the ticket and possibly because he “smirked” when pointing out paid-parking signs. He said she asked for his name and badge number, “however he did not want to provide her with it.”
The parking officer said Barker began putting her iPhone near his face and subsequently struck his nose with the phone. This is why, he told police, he pushed Barker’s arm away. Barker said she was not injured. A message left for the officer was not returned Monday afternoon. The Journal is not publishing his name because he hasn’t been charged with a crime.
According to Parking Division director Noel Correia, people have the right to photograph parking officers and ask for names and badge numbers. This officer was removed from public contact on Saturday, was off Sunday and Monday and will be interviewed today.
“”We neither condone nor encourage such behavior,” Correia said. “If the allegations are correct, then there will be actions taken that are appropriate at that time.” In an email to Barker, Correia said he took the incident very seriously and apologized to you “for this unacceptable incident and inconvenience caused you.”