Detroit Parking Officer ‘Ponytail’ Talks Fame, Tickets

ome days, DeAndre Hubbard feels like a cape-free crusader stuck in a villain's uniform.

Every morning, he wakes up at the crack of dawn, slicks his hair back in a ponytail and pins on a shining badge. It's a routine the 51-year-old Hubbard has been following for almost 21 years as a parking officer for the city of Detroit. And he couldn't love his job more-even if sometimes he is known as "the evil guy."

"I embrace it," says Hubbard. "My job is providing safety, even though people hate us." You may remember Hubbard as "Ponytail" from an episode of A&E's Parking Wars.

"I got the nickname from some homeless guys, and when the show actually came here, the producers said, 'Where's the guy they call Ponytail at?'"

The show has made him somewhat of a local celebrity, he says. "Being on the show changed my whole life working on the job." Now, instead of people yelling at him about tickets, they stop him to say, "Get that money, Ponytail!"


On an average day, Hubbard can be seen ticketing the no-standing zones of downtown Detroit from 7 to 9 a.m. Then he heads to the courthouse.

"I'm not harsh, though," he explains. "If I haven't printed the ticket yet, and the citizen comes up, I don't give them a ticket-as long as they're not being belligerent." If you are getting a ticket, don't drive off, he advises, because you'll just receive it in the mail.

"Our job is actually to keep traffic flowing," says Hubbard. "People get mad because you give them a ticket, but if we're not out here people will just park and then no one will ever have anywhere to park."

The new meters in Detroit should make the parking process less painful, says Hubbard, but there will always be something to complain about.

"What I find odd is that people complain that the meter's not working, and then complain more when we fix them?" he asks.

Through rain, sleet or snow, Hubbard says he's always out on the street giving tickets-unless, of course, it's his lunchtime. And the busiest day for tickets in Detroit is always on the Tigers' opening day.

Last year, he worked 7 a.m.-10 p.m., walked for nine hours straight and wrote almost 300 tickets.

"People would rather pay the $10 parking ticket than give the paid parking lots $20," he explains. Since the parking fee has been raised to $45, Hubbard has seen a decrease in violations, but there will always be people who think they are above the law of the lots.

"I'm not out to get people. I love coming to work: a job that's just me, and I love being around people," says Hubbard. "They asked me to be a supervisor (in an office). I don't want to do that though. I feel like a better impact when I'm out here in the streets."

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