HUMOR IN UNIFORM
THE READING IMPAIRED
Every police officer must deal with parking violations whether they occur during patrol, during special events and details or involving a civilian complaint.
Every Officer I know tries to remain serious when asked questions like, “Officer, can I park by those NO PARKING signs?”
When I walk up to an illegally parked vehicle with ticket book in hand, the owner comes running up to me with the startled statement of, “I was only parked there for a few minutes!” I don’t tell them that I saw it there at least a half an hour ago as I passed by on my way to a call.
I have always been tempted to respond to that defense saying, “Let’s look at the NO PARKING sign. It says NO PARKING.” There’s no disclaimer in small print stating, ‘… unless you’re parking for only a few minutes.’
I have never responded in that way, but always wanted to.
I have another snide remark, which I have never used: “The sign says NO PARKING. I know it doesn’t say ABSOLUTELY NO PARKING, but it does say NO PARKING. What does that mean to YOU?”
Clearly, like Vehicle & Traffic Laws, Penal Laws, Local Laws (which usually involve parking), the law is fairly clear. It should be observed because if they are not, we have NO LAWS at all.
THE POMPOUS ASS
A few years ago, I was sent on a call about a car parked “for a while” in the vicinity of the caller.
On arrival, I ran the license plate. The car was duly registered, inspected, insured and parked on the property of a NEIGHBOR, with whom the complainant had an ongoing problem. The car in question did not encroach on the property of the complainant in any way.
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When speaking with the complainant, her only demand was that she wanted the car moved. I explained that it was not on her property. It was registered, insured, inspected and properly parked.
Somehow, in her mind those details were irrelevant. She was adamant. She wanted that car moved.
After I explained all of the details and said I could not force the neighbor to move his car, she was livid. She started screaming at me. She stated that the car was “in her line-of-sight,” as though that was some kind of criminal behavior.
I did not understand what she meant or which direction she was looking. When I told her there was nothing I could do, she angrily told me that she would call the State Police – as if that were some kind of threat.
I simply said, “I understand,” and walked away. I chuckled to myself because I expected they would give her the same response as I did, or possibly something less polite.
THE HANDICAPPED PERSON WITHOUT A PERMIT
The real danger with parking violations are those that involve HANDICAPPED PARKING spaces. It made me mad if a saw a senior citizen fall because he or she had to park hundreds of feet away from a business entrance. Too often the cause was a selfish, healthy individual who do not want to walk the distance to the entrance.
I judge this generally means there is a WALKING PROBLEM, not a parking problem. Lazy people do not want to walk.
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To be within the rules, a HANDICAPPED PERMIT must be displayed, either on the license plate or hanging from the rear view mirror of the vehicle. Just because a senior citizen parks in the HANDICAPPED parking spot does not mean they are handicapped.
I asked an elderly woman once if she had a HANDICAPPED PARKING permit. Her answer was “No, but my hip has been bothering me lately so I thought I could park here.”
In effort to be compassionate, I told her I understood, but that I could not make that determination. I also counseled her that a HANDICAPPED PERMIT can be easily acquired and told her how to get one. To encourage her, I wrote a parking ticket and told her to come to court with her HANDICAPPED PERMIT and I would dismiss the ticket without prejudice.
THE TEENAGE ZIPPEES
One time, I was completing a field report in my car, sitting in front of a local supermarket. I witnessed two teenagers zip into a handicapped parking spot. They hung the permit on the rear view mirror and briskly walk into the supermarket.
I was waiting for them to exit the store. As they approached, I asked, “Gentlemen, which one of you is handicapped?” The driver promptly replied, “My grandfather who owns the car.” I asked where he was and the driver replied, “Home.”
I then carefully and firmly explained to them that the driver, or the owner of the car is handicapped but not THE CAR. They were, of course, extremely penitent (having been caught red-handed) and promised not to ever do it again.
Due to the ease in which they pulled into the spot, I doubt they would stop doing it but first might check the area for police presence.
THE FIGHT IS ON … ALMOST
The only one instance which almost came to an altercation arrived during one lovely Saturday summer afternoon.
I cruised through a shopping center to find a couple of motorcycles (rice rockets) parked in a handicapped spot. The drivers of the bikes were right there talking with a couple of girls in front of the beauty parlor.
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I leaned out the window and asked, “Gentlemen … please move the bikes. They’re in a HANDICAPPED PARKING spot.”
I then used my public address microphone and said the same message in a loud and stern manner. This time, they looked up and went right back to talking with the girls of the beauty parlor.
I had tried twice but now, war has been declared.
I exited the police car with my ticket book and started writing two HANDICAPPED PARKING VIOLATIONS, which in our state was $175 + an $85 surcharge, total cost of $260, each.
That brought them over to me and they asked what I was doing. I replied, “Gentlemen, I asked you twice, now here are your tickets.”
One fellow took the ticket, but the other took the ticket and said “You feel pretty big with that badge and that gun?”
I thought he was joking so I replied, “Oh you want a shot at the title? I get off work at 1800 hours,” and gave him the address of the police headquarters. Of course, no one showed, that is, until the tickets came due at court.
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I was approached by the uncle of one of the motorcyclists who was with the New York City Police Department. He asked if any accommodation might be agreed to.
He had no idea of the circumstances surrounding why I had issued the tickets. When I told him, his face got ‘beet red’ and he said, “That’s not what they told me. You do what you have to do.” He pleaded GUILTY, paid both fines plus surcharges and left the courtroom.
All the young men had to do was move the motorcycles to the next adjacent open space and none of this would have happened. Being obstinate has its dangers – and its price.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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