SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A traffic officer in San Francisco goes the extra mile while working his beat to crack down on disabled parking cheats.
Officer Chris Nichel takes the job personally. That’s because as someone diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, he is one of the many people who depend on those spots to be available.READ MORE: 'Highway Slingshot Shooter' Fires Ball Bearings at Windows Along San Jose's Guadalupe Freeway
Seasoned shoppers in a San Francisco parking lot know its prime spots are being watched very closely.
Officer Nichel is quick, frank and courteous.
He could have easily taken a desk job years ago, but instead continues to work his beat as an SFMTA parking and traffic officer.
“I may have my limitations, but I can do most of things everyone else does, said Nichel.
Nichel and his partner spend part of the day checking parking lots all across the city. But what he really loves is walking the beat, being on the streets and checking disabled parking spots to make sure they’re being used by the people who really need them.
“It’s not so much as getting people with tickets. It’s making sure placards are being used legitimately,” explained Nichel.READ MORE: 3 East Bay School Districts Go All-In on Student Vaccine Mandates
When asked how many hours a day he is on his feet, Nichel replied, “The shift is eight hours. Out of the eight hours, probably three to four, five hours on my feet.”
All those hours means regular visits to a chiropractor and extra stretching sessions at the gym once the day is done.
Nichel was born with cerebral palsy, the debilitating condition that took away his ability to walk, but never his mind and attitude.
“I’d rather try. And if I can’t do or wasn’t able to successfully do something, then at least I tried,” said Nichel.
That effort is what the SFMTA needs with only a dozen enforcers like Nichel to monitor the 700 blue disabled parking zones each day.
“Come Monday morning, everyone has Monday blues. Chris is like Lets go out there and work!” said SFMTA parking and traffic Officer Lawrence Manu.
“I represent what this issue is all about. When we catch someone or are checking somebody out who’s legitimate, they see that obviously I am physically disabled,” said Nichel.MORE NEWS: State-of-the-Art Water Purification Plant Helps Silicon Valley Battle Drought
A hard-earned paycheck, no excuses and an everyday effort that all San Franciscans stand up for and appreciate.