Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mentally Disabled

I'm one of the few officers on my squad that takes time to issue parking tickets. A lot of cops consider these a waste of time and not "real" police work. I admit there's more serious crimes requiring attention but when there are no calls holding and plenty of officers available for service, I find myself checking the disabled parking spaces in a few prime locations.

A former motor officer joined my training squad recently and showed me how to verify the owner of a disabled parking permit. In the past, I checked these permits (usually hung from the rear view mirror) for expiration dates. I cited several drivers using expired disabled parking permits but now I had the tools to verify if the person using the permit was the person it was actually issued to.

Last week I drove to a gourmet grocery store in an upscale neighborhood and saw a car parked in the handicapped space. I parked behind this car and walked to the front of it to check the bright blue disabled parking permit hanging behind the windshield. As I stood there, a man driving alone arrived in a brand new Lexus and parked in the disabled space right next to the one I was checking. He looked at me as he got out of his car and walked down the breezeway between the grocery store and some other retail shops.

I walked over to the Lexus and verified a current permit was hanging from the rear view mirror. I returned to my patrol car and checked on this permit. The registered owner of this permit was a woman. I ran the license plate of the Lexus and find it registered to a man with the same address as the disabled woman with the permit. I believed the driver was using his wife's disabled parking permit so I decided to wait a few minutes for him to come out.

A few minutes later he returns to his car with a small amount of dry-cleaned clothes. I approached and asked:
"Hello. Do you have a disabled parking permit?"
"There's one hanging in my window."
"Yes, I see that but it's not issued to you."
"How do you know that?!"
"I checked it in my computer and it is registered to a woman. I wanted to verify if you have a permit of your own."
"Well, no but my wife does."
"Yes, I understand that. Is your wife here now?"
"I just dropped her off."
"Here -at this property?"
"No, at home."
"OK. Can I see your ID? I'm going to issue you a citation."
"What for?!!"

He sensed what was happening and became visibly angry with me. The address listed on his vehicle registration told me he was probably a very wealthy person. The payment amount for this citation is $235.

"For parking in a designated disabled parking space without a permit."
"Oh C'MON. I didn't do anything wrong."
"You don't think it's wrong to park in a disabled parking space when you're not disabled?"
"Well I was disabled."
"Do you have a disabled parking permit in your name?"
"No, but I don't see what writing me a ticket's going to do."
"Hopefully, these citations will deter people from parking in spaces without a permit."
"I come here all the time and I parked in a regular space about 20 times over the last month."
"You probably should have continued that practice."
"I still don't think you should write me a ticket."
"Sir, if you believe you have received this citation in error you have the right to request a hearing in court."
"Yeah, I think I'll do that!! It'll be your word against mine!!"
"I would be happy to testify in court over this matter. Here's your citation. Payment instructions are on the envelope."
"What was that?"

I did not reply but stood and watched him get in his luxury car and drive away. A man walking into the store came over and thanked me for taking the time to cite handicap parking violators.

I am surprised at the number of people with blatant disregard for common courtesy. Is it laziness, apathy, arrogance, or some kind of feeling of entitlement that drives people to use expired, counterfeit, or borrowed handicap permits to park in these spaces? I've seen violators do this when there are regular parking spaces a few feet away. I'm even more surprised how upset drivers get when issued a parking ticket. I've written countless moving violations to drivers for thousands of dollars and was told, "Thanks, Officer" after handing them the tickets. But try writing a $16.00 ticket for parking in the wrong spot and you'd be amazed at the level of anger that comes pouring out.

Whatever the reason, parking violators beware: Big Brother is watching and will not hesitate to make you answer up for your wrongdoings.


At July 07, 2008 5:29 AM, Blogger *Goddess* said...

"Well I was disabled."

Oy. What a dumb response.

I love how he parked in the spot for the disabled even after seeing you there, though.

At July 07, 2008 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you for, they deserve it.

Those people really irk me around here. I've seen some blatent things like when the 19-20 year springs out of her car with a handicap placard and runs down the street to get to work on time. She's probably using her grandma's placard so she doesn't have to pay the meter.

At July 07, 2008 10:27 AM, Blogger melinda said...


I think it's wrong for cops to create traps to issue citations for the express purpose of earning money. A city nearby did that, creating poorly marked traps where they can issue speeding tickets, to provide income for the department. To me, that borders on entrapment.

However, if I have done something that is CLEARLY wrong, in a CLEARLY marked area, i.e. parking in a handicapped parking space (with its pretty blue sign!), then I deserve that ticket! And I can't believe some people think they can violate those laws without getting a punishment!!!

At July 07, 2008 3:36 PM, Blogger Officer "Smith" said...

When I run into this situation,I not only write the parking ticket, I also issue the driver a misdemeanor citation for fraudulent use of another person's placard,and I confiscate the placard.

Some people ask if this is fair to the person who owns the placard. My response is this. When a person is issued a placard, they are also given the responsibility for the proper use of that placard. If they cannot see fit to ensure that their placard is not misused, they can go through the process to get it reissued.

If the woman the placard was issued to either allowed her husband to use her placard, or can't trust him not to use it fraudulently, perhaps the inconvenience will cause her to keep the placard in her possession instead of leaving it in the car.

At July 07, 2008 9:29 PM, Blogger whimsical brainpan said...

Good for you and thank you!

I hate people who do that.

Since I am on disability my doctor at one point offered to help me get a disabled parking permit. I pointed out that I could walk just fine. When she responded that I do have hands that make it hard to carry things along with a bad back I just said, "That's what carts are for."

It amazes me how selfish people are. I have seen people who were struggling to walk get cheated out of their rightful spot because of a******s like the one you ticketed.

At July 09, 2008 5:56 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

I saw a Mercedes pull up the other day, not in a handicap spot, but in the striped van access area between two spots.
So basically, this lady in the mercedes took up TWO handicap spots so that she could run into the video store and return her dvds.
i nearly got out and keyed her car.

Keep up the good work


At July 10, 2008 10:13 PM, Blogger Officer "Smith" said...

In this state parking in that hash marked area will get you the same $275 ticket. Even if you DO have a placard.

At July 11, 2008 3:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL. My father's squad dubbed him "Fire Lane Frank" years ago. He always told me that the hazard lights meant "ticket me, ticket me" they blink! People park in the handicapped spaces in front od Coldstone all the time, and they're told-"this will be the most expensive ice cream you've ever had." And as for "speeding traps".....don't speed and you won't have the problem. Simple solution. The fine paid goes to the courts and the state, not the department.

At July 11, 2008 9:50 AM, Blogger Bobby G. said...

With the sheer NUMBER of similar H/C violations on Ft. Wayne's SE quadrant, a "go-getter" officer could RETIRE early (if the department put them on a "commission" plan)...!
(yeah, it's THAT prevalent)

Stay Safe.


At July 11, 2008 9:19 PM, Blogger Officer "Smith" said...

Perhaps you have seen this post of mine from long ago...

At July 13, 2008 7:11 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

Here in Texas a city/county can only derive a small portion of its income from traffic violations. I guess the state gets the extra.

That is how you handle speed traps.
If you break the law, you still need to be punished.


At July 14, 2008 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what Melinda meant was the following:

Near Galveston, TX, when you head south down past the sea wall, the speed limit turns to 55 when you get out of town. It goes on for some time like this, except for a 1/2 mile stretch in a VERY small town (it only has a police station, corner store, traffic light, and court house), where it turns to 35, and then goes right back to 55. The sign that indicates that it is 35 is often nearly covered over by a tree that is typically overgrown and, surprise surprise, the city really makes almost no effort to make sure that it is visible, and it is EXTREMELY easy to miss.

I got a ticket for going 55 through there once. Was I speeding? I guess, technically... but I had to go back through twice to find that 35 mph sign so that I knew why I was ticketed.

That said, the blame is misappropriated, as it is not the fault of the cops but of the city officials that decide to do that garbage, and who, often as not, the people of the area voted in. It always peeves me when people put the blame on cops for enforcing the laws that their favorite politician passes. Then again, frankly, it seems like the city officials are happy to let the cops twist in the wind, getting blamed for what they have instated.

At July 14, 2008 1:46 PM, Anonymous Nana said...

At a concert venue, teens parked with a placard...told the officer, "My mom's going to be dropped off and we'll bring her home from the concert."
Officer phoned mom -- who wasn't planning to attend the heavy metal concert. Busted! And a nice EXPENSIVE ticket here in Irvine CA

At July 22, 2008 6:42 AM, Blogger Aileen said...

I have 3 children who are disabled. My youngest , at one point , needed oxygen as well as his wheelchair. We received a handicap tag for the car and I made sure never to abuse that permit by using it without him with me. He is now in a walker but I no longer use the permit unless we are in a massive parking lot at an amusement park or something. the reason? One , it does him good to walk as much as he can and two , there are people far worse than him who may need that spot more than we do.
My oldest son is severely mentally retarded. I was able to get a permit then and chose not to for the same reasons.
Nothing irritates me more than seeing someone drive into a spot and hop out and skip into a store. The other day I saw a guy do just that leaving the elderly person who the permit was obviously for in a hot car by herself. Park in a regular spot and walk you lazy bastard!
I've often wanted to say something to these people but have chosen not to for the reason you just faced. .People who don't care about the handicapped are more likely to become belligerent. I do make a point to make eye contact with them when possible and give them a look of disgust as I walk by with my youngest son in his walker as we walk from a regular spot.

At July 24, 2008 7:20 AM, Blogger April said...

You are also educating the public about this issue. I am sorry to say that when I was much younger (and disabled parking places were a new thing), I didn't really understand how important it was not to park there. I never got a ticket, but one day a woman came over and vehemently let me know that I should not be doing that. Her emotional response helped me understand that it was wrong. Now that I have friends who are disabled, I would likely do the same thing if I saw other people doing it.

At August 16, 2008 6:10 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

I wish more police officers took the time to ticket parking offenders....they are my pet peeve! Not only the handicap spot offenders but people who who are so freaking lazy they park in areas that are not designated for parking. I wish I could ticket people!

Our next door neighbor has a handicap parking sign in front of us house. But- he does not have a handicap plate or placard. We've complained to our local police and city council numerous times and nothing is done. Parking is a premium on our street and he got this sign years ago to guarantee himself a spot, even though he has a driveway. Gah! I hate people!

At September 20, 2008 9:10 AM, Anonymous ida said...

i have a problem with my knee. my doctor wants me to take disabilty and leave my employment and i refuse becouse it wont pay well and i get a better workout being employed. my doc and kid wants me to get the sticker for my car. i refuse becouse walking is a better workout. plus most spaces i find empty are right next to the disabled. i dont even use them for the amusment parks even thought i am seriously considering it in the next 10 years or so. so therefor i am glad you "cornered" this guy. he was blant in his use of the sticker. i've heard people talk that arnet disabled and they think they have a "right" of using the sticker as long as it is in "their" car or they are paying for this persons expensens. makes you wonder how shallow someone can be.

At January 13, 2009 5:14 PM, Blogger Kelsey said...

Hahaha. That's awesome.

Don't want to get a ticket? Don't break the law.

At March 30, 2009 2:58 PM, Anonymous Johnny Cockrin said...

Not gonna lie you sound like a legit prick in this situation and is a big reason why people have such a problem with police officers. Officers who nit pick on parking violations are the ones who typically have the biggest egos and are the ones who give the rest of their fellow ones a bad rep. I don't park in handicap slots, but in this instance not only did you give him a ticket but you waited for him just to snipe him. Sounded like you had a personal agenda to ruin this guy's day just because he has more money than you, as does some of your other posts where you blatantly attack people because they are driving in luxurious cars. If you really felt it was necesarry to write out a ticket don't go about it in a way where you purposely attack someone.

At January 29, 2011 12:24 AM, Blogger Joan Anne said...

"Well I was disabled." - huh...he knows that he is disabled and yet he's still doing it. How could he.

You do your job well Mr. Officer. I salute on you for that.

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