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By-Law Enforcement Officer


Description

We've all seen it, someone hurriedly parking and dashing into a store without putting money in the meter, and upon returning to the car, they find a ticket on the windshield. What about people getting stopped in a "leash-only" park and receiving a ticket because their dog was running free? Or maybe your neighbor was burning leaves in the backyard, until someone thought the fire was getting too big and called a by-law enforcement officer to come and quench those flames.

By-law enforcement officers play an important role in the day-to-day activities in communities. They look after dozens of by-laws, but the most common are noise control, parking violation, business licensing, animal control, smoking, zoning, weed control, recycling and sewage/septic systems. They come to the aid of neighbors, business owners and individuals, acting on behalf of the municipality to ensure the communities are respectful of the rules. Not all these rules are widely known--not everyone is aware that you can be fined for allowing your hedge to grow too wild. But if your actions are a nuisance to someone, chances are, there's a by-law prohibiting your behavior.

Some by-law enforcement officers specialize, especially if they work in larger communities. They may focus on traffic, animal control, or environmental violations. In smaller communities, officers tend to a number of by-laws.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in a job in by-law enforcement? These individuals must be keen observers who notice details as well as good communicators. They should have a good understanding of law and have a desire to see justice done properly. They should be skilled in problem-solving, conflict resolution and negotiation. Honesty, maturity, integrity and a non-sexist, culturally open attitude are tremendous assets to a successful by-law enforcement officer. They must be fit, have good eyesight (with our without glasses) and have some computer skills.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Respond to complaints from citizens
  • Explain the by-law to the violators
  • Try to reach an understanding and obtain compliance with the bylaw
  • Enforce bylaws by issuing orders to correct problems
  • Arrange for required work to be done when orders are not followed
  • Enforce by-laws with tickets, summonses and subpoenas
  • Prepare related legal documents
  • Appear in court and give testimony
  • The typical day will involve listening to complaints from community members, documenting those meetings and following up on the issues. If there is in fact a by-law violation, by-law enforcement officers will take whatever measures necessary to remedy the situation. Some by-law enforcement officers patrol public areas, watching for violations. The job permits for work outdoors, as well as travel throughout the community.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • By-law enforcement officers are employed by state or city governments. They can work alone, or they can work in teams, depending on the size of the community and the by-laws they specialize in. Those who focus on hazardous goods or animals have more dangerous work environments and they may work alongside the police force. They work both indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions and may work shifts, overnight, weekends and holidays.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Anyone trained as a by-law enforcement officer has quite a few options. There is always the possibility of moving up the ranks, advancing to supervisor positions. There is also working with the police force or moving on to law school. Former by-law enforcement officers can also become security guards or private investigators.
 

  Educational Paths  
While it is possible to get hired with little or no experience and/or education. Experience in a related administration or regulatory occupation is helpful. Completion of a college program or courses in law and security is also beneficial
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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