Parking officers in pilot project
Rick Madonik/Torstar News Service
At 6-foot-4, things get a bit squishy for parking officer Otimoi Oyemu in his division’s new Smart car.
His knees protrude eight centimetres above the bottom of the steering wheel. He can easily place one hand on the windshield and the other on the back window. And to reach the police radio, Oyemu has to twist his chest into the passenger seat to get around his own leg.
Despite the tight squeeze, Oyemu says he enjoys zipping around town in the Smart cars — even if they max out at about 100 km/h.
“It’s a great little city car. We don’t need to go too fast,” he said recently on patrol. “And it’s very easy to park. It can fit in all kinds of tight spots.”
For the past month, parking enforcement officers have been cruising around in two Smart cars emblazoned with police logos and stripes. The force is also testing out a pair of Civic hybrids. This environmentally — and economically — smart pilot program will run until next February. If suitable, Toronto police may adopt the pint-sized cars on a larger scale.
“So far, the response has been very positive,” said Mark Pugash, the director of public information. “There are jobs we have that officers don’t need to go from A to B very quickly.”
But on the street, some people don’t know what to make of it.
As Oyemu turned right out of the station, a passing motorist did a double take, then grinned. This happens, Oyemu said, but so far the only actual teasing has been from his colleagues.
“It’s just fellow police officers going, ‘Did you just get out of that tiny vehicle?’” he laughed. “People seem really happy about it. We get lots of comments: ‘It’s about time you guys started driving those.’”