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Thread: Civilians to patrol handicapped parking

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Civilians to patrol handicapped parking

    Civilians to patrol handicapped parking
    Head of spinal injury group, Richland County sheriff hope to end misuse of spaces
    By J.R. GONZALES
    Staff Writer

    Kermit Short has given up trying to find a handicapped-parking space.

    So, he parks diagonally across two regular spaces to create the space he needs for his specially equipped van.

    But Short is ready to open a new campaign against people who illegally park in places designated for the vehicles of the handicapped.

    The head of South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association is teaming up with Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott to form a citizen's handicapped-parking patrol.

    Lott and Short have scheduled a press conference this afternoon to ask for volunteers to help police look for illegal parking.

    Short said he would like the group to include retired police officers and retirees to patrol. He also wants relatives of disabled people to get involved.

    The patrol will be armed with cameras. The volunteers will take photos of license plates of cars they think are violating handicapped-parking laws.

    Police will follow up on those photographs, Short said. Richland County's patrol initially will not write tickets, he said.

    Short said the volunteers mostly will look for cars that do not have handicapped-parking decals.

    Local police agencies have disagreed over whether state law allows them to ticket a driver who uses a placard for the handicapped that belongs to someone not in the car.

    Some police departments say it is illegal to use a placard for the handicapped to park in a reserved spot unless the driver is handicapped or is transporting a disabled person. The Department of Public Safety and other police departments say the law does not cover that situation.

    Lott declined comment on the patrol until after the press conference. But this summer, his department had questioned whether it could ticket people using placards that did not belong to them.

    The confusion in the law surfaced after Columbia City Councilman E.W. Cromartie was criticized this summer for using a handicapped-parking permit that he said belonged to his mother.

    That sparked the patrol plan, Short said. "You might call that an opportunity," he said.

    Short said he hoped the Legislature would close loopholes in that law.

    State Rep. Joe Brown, D-Richland, said he plans to introduce legislation to make sure those using the placards are entitled to do so.

    Details are still being worked out, but the Richland patrol would be fashioned after groups that help other police departments deal with handicapped-parking violations.

    In Lincoln, Neb., 12 volunteers make up the patrol.

    "It's been a raving success," said Cheri Marti, handicapped-parking patrol liaison for the Lincoln police.

    In 2002, the volunteers in Lincoln wrote 500 tickets for handicapped-parking violations.

    The volunteers in Lincoln have to take a weeklong training course to learn about the various handicapped-parking laws. A two-year commitment is required, Marti said.

    She said the program was created because police could not keep up with Lincoln's high rate of growth.

    Police in the Midlands say they do not have time or personnel to police handicapped parking.

    Reach Gonzales at (803) 771-8405 or jgonzales@thestate.com.

  2. #2
    I am loving this!!! Go get 'em!!

  3. #3
    I was just saying the other day that something like this would be a great idea. If this works out maybe we should all approach our municipalities about the idea.

    "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow"
    ~ Anon

  4. #4
    There is a program like this in Portland. At least about 7 years ago we did. It's mostly retired police officers, but my husband at the time did it for a few months. He really enjoyed doing it, but then our daughter was born and there wasn't enough time for him to do it anymore. It wasn't like you could just do it anytime. You had to be "on-duty".

    Shannon
    33 year old T4/5 complete
    25 years post

  5. #5
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Volunteers to help spot violators

    Volunteers to help spot violators
    Patrol forming in Richland County will go into action after Thanksgiving
    By J.R. GONZALES
    Staff Writer


    jeffrey minnish / the state

    Harold Starr, who is legally entitled to use handicapped parking spaces, supports having volunteers report people who use the spaces illegally. "If I were physically able, I would join the program," he said.


    Parking illegally in a handicapped space on the busiest shopping day of the year might get you closer to the mall, but you also will be more likely to get caught.

    Richland County's handicapped-parking patrol will take to the streets and parking lots for the first time the day after Thanksgiving .

    Volunteers - Sheriff Leon Lott hopes to have at least 10 by then - will photograph illegally parked vehicles and then turn the snapshots over to police.As it gets rolling, the patrol will target cars without a handicapped placard or tag that are parked in handicapped spaces.

    Lott said the patrol will get people to think twice before illegally parking in a handicapped space. "We want people out here to know that there are eyes out here watching them," he said.

    The volunteers will wear orange vests identifying them as patrol members working for the sheriff's department.

    Although they will not write tickets, they will note the day, time and parking location with the photos they turn in.

    A flyer will be placed on each illegal vehicle to let drivers know they will be contacted by a deputy. Violators could be fined at least $100 or face 30 days in jail.

    Volunteers will be expected to work 16 hours a month. They will be given four hours of training about parking violations. They'll also be taught how to write a report and how to resolve conflicts.

    Cameras and cell phones will be donated for the patrol, said Joseph Pellicci, sheriff's spokesman.

    Harold Starr, 79, of Columbia, whose handicapped placard hangs from the mirror of his car, thinks the patrol is a great idea.

    "If I were physically able, I would want to join the program."

    Starr uses a cane or a walker to get around. Once in a while, he comes across cars parked illegally in spaces he is supposed to get.

    Lott expects the program to grow. In Charlotte, about 100 volunteers patrol for handicapped-parking violators, he said.

    The Richland patrol eventually will take information to deputies about drivers who use placards or tags issued to someone else.

    Some police agencies differ over whether state law allows them to ticket a driver who uses a placard for the handicapped that belongs to someone not in the car.

    Lott said he came up with the idea for the patrol after Columbia City Councilman E.W. Cromartie was criticized this summer for using a handicapped-parking permit that he said belonged to his mother.

    "His situation had made all this come about," Lott said.

    Cromartie, who stood next to Lott at Wednesday's press conference at the Richland County courthouse, applauded the patrol.

    "The illegal use of a parking space is something we cannot tolerate," he said. He declined to discuss his summer parking problems.

    Roy Bartell, president of the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association, said he will volunteer.

    Bartell, 39, a quadriplegic, said drivers need to know that illegally parking in a handicapped spot takes up space intended for people who need them.

    Mark Riffle, 36, a quadriplegic who works for the state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, said he gets aggravated when he cannot find a place to park. He is encouraged by the patrol.

    In 2002, the state Department of Motor Vehicles issued 3,144 handicapped-parking placards in Richland County, said Beth Parks, acting department spokeswoman.

    Reach Gonzales at (803) 771-8405 or jgonzales@thestate.com.



    http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate...al/7024725.htm

  6. #6
    Senior Member Stiggy's Avatar
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    Sounds like something that needs to be done where I live..

    "The Meaning of things lies not in things themselves,but in our attitude towards them"

  7. #7
    A great idea.

    I think I might pursue this locally.

    ..hmmm

  8. #8
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Parking patrol begins duties

    Parking patrol begins duties
    Richland County volunteers search for vehicles parked illegally in handicapped spaces
    By LAUREN LEACH
    Staff Writer


    BY TAKAAKI IWABU/THE STATE

    DiAna DiAna, a volunteer for the Richland County Sheriff's Department Handicapped Parking Patrol, looks for illegally parked vehicles Tuesday at Columbia Place.


    When DiAna DiAnasaw the white Nissan Maxima on Tuesday, she found just what she was looking for.

    DiAna, 55, of Columbia, was not shopping for a car; she was on the lookout for vehicles parked in handicapped-parking spaces without permission. It was the first day of work for DiAna and 25 other members of the Richland County Sheriff's Department Handicapped Parking Patrol.

    The Sheriff's Department, along with the S.C. Spinal Cord Injury Association, S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation and the S.C. Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, developed the program to assist law enforcement officers.

    "I would have to say that most people who illegally park in handicapped spaces do not get ticketed because law enforcement doesn't have the resources to constantly monitor all handicapped-parking areas," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

    Lott, who learned about a similar program in another state, has said he came up with the idea for the patrol after Columbia City Councilman E.W. Cromartie was criticized this summer for using a handicapped-parking permit he said belonged to his mother.

    This is the first program of its kind in the Midlands, said Sheriff's Lt. Joseph Pellicci.

    But it does not look like it will be the last. The Lexington County Sheriff's Department likes the idea and is looking for volunteers to join its handicapped-parking Patrol.

    Instead of giving tickets, the volunteers, ages 18 to 70-plus, photograph the vehicle in question and leave a warning flier on it. They then give the information to the Sheriff's Department, which takes it from there.

    "We find out where (the drivers) live and visit them and let them explain their side of the story. We determine whether or not a ticket will be issued," Pellicci said.

    Violators of the handicapped-parking law can be fined up to $200 or be sentenced up to 30 days in jail.

    Pellicci said volunteers look carefully for a handicapped-driver tag, disabled-veteran tag, POW tag, Purple Heart tag or a blue or red placard.

    If they do not see it at first, they make sure it is not on the vehicle's seat or tucked inside the dash, he said. If it is not there, the warning process begins, Pellicci said.

    DiAna checked the Nissan and was snapping photos of it when its flabbergasted driver spotted her.

    "Excuse me, excuse me," the driver yelled as she bolted from Columbia Place, hauling a Piccadilly's bag.

    DiAna was taking a Polaroid picture of the car as evidence and filling out a report. The driver, who would not give her name, had plenty of excuses as to why she parked in the space.

    "I was in a hurry," she said. "I was just moving this. I made a horrible mistake."

    After DiAna told her the sheriff's department would contact her, the driver jumped in the car and sped off.

    "I felt bad for her," DiAna said. "She was very nervous."

    DiAna's training prepared her for with the driver. Volunteers are urged not to get into confrontations with drivers. If this happens, volunteers can call the sheriff's department on cell phones provided by Alltel, Pellicci said.

    The volunteers offered a variety of reasons for getting involved. For DiAna, the challenges faced by a sick friend got her interested.

    "I have a friend who is a cancer patient. We have a hard time finding a places to park," DiAna said.

    The situation was similar for Alice Huntley, 71, who had difficulty finding places to park when assisting disabled relatives. Before the program came along, "I just wrote little anonymous notes" and left them on the vehicles," the Columbia woman said.

    When she heard patrol volunteers were needed, Huntley was quick to volunteer. The thought of a healthy person parking in a handicapped-parking space bugs her.

    "You couldn't print what I think," Huntley said.

    Reach Leach at (803) 771-8549 or leleach@thestate.com.
    http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate...al/7352062.htm

  9. #9
    Senior Member krstofer's Avatar
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    An email I just sent to my local PD:

    Sirs,
    Please Please could we institute something like the following here in Chico?
    I know that checking out illegal use of the HC spots in town is not your highest priority, and it shouldn't be. However, I believe there is rampant abuse here in town. Just yesterday, I saw a construction type truck parked in a handicapped spot at OSH, complete with placard. If the person was capable of doing construction, (climbing ladders, pounding nails, etc) might they not truly be disabled? maybe they were using gramma's placard to get "the good spots"?
    In South Carolina, the police are using disabled volunteers to help. The link to the story is here:
    http://www.thestate.com/mld/state/20...al/7015767.htm

    And I've copied it here as well:

    Posted on Wed, Oct. 15, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
    Civilians to patrol handicapped parking
    Head of spinal injury group, Richland County sheriff hope to end misuse of spaces
    By J.R. GONZALES
    Staff Writer

    Kermit Short has given up trying to find a handicapped-parking space.

    So, he parks diagonally across two regular spaces to create the space he needs for his specially equipped van.

    But Short is ready to open a new campaign against people who illegally park in places designated for the vehicles of the handicapped.

    The head of South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association is teaming up with Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott to form a citizen's handicapped-parking patrol.

    Lott and Short have scheduled a press conference this afternoon to ask for volunteers to help police look for illegal parking.

    Short said he would like the group to include retired police officers and retirees to patrol. He also wants relatives of disabled people to get involved.

    The patrol will be armed with cameras. The volunteers will take photos of license plates of cars they think are violating handicapped-parking laws.

    Police will follow up on those photographs, Short said. Richland County's patrol initially will not write tickets, he said.

    Short said the volunteers mostly will look for cars that do not have handicapped-parking decals.

    Local police agencies have disagreed over whether state law allows them to ticket a driver who uses a placard for the handicapped that belongs to someone not in the car.

    Some police departments say it is illegal to use a placard for the handicapped to park in a reserved spot unless the driver is handicapped or is transporting a disabled person. The Department of Public Safety and other police departments say the law does not cover that situation.

    Lott declined comment on the patrol until after the press conference. But this summer, his department had questioned whether it could ticket people using placards that did not belong to them.

    The confusion in the law surfaced after Columbia City Councilman E.W. Cromartie was criticized this summer for using a handicapped-parking permit that he said belonged to his mother.

    That sparked the patrol plan, Short said. "You might call that an opportunity," he said.

    Short said he hoped the Legislature would close loopholes in that law.

    State Rep. Joe Brown, D-Richland, said he plans to introduce legislation to make sure those using the placards are entitled to do so.

    Details are still being worked out, but the Richland patrol would be fashioned after groups that help other police departments deal with handicapped-parking violations.

    In Lincoln, Neb., 12 volunteers make up the patrol.

    "It's been a raving success," said Cheri Marti, handicapped-parking patrol liaison for the Lincoln police.

    In 2002, the volunteers in Lincoln wrote 500 tickets for handicapped-parking violations.

    The volunteers in Lincoln have to take a weeklong training course to learn about the various handicapped-parking laws. A two-year commitment is required, Marti said.

    She said the program was created because police could not keep up with Lincoln's high rate of growth.

    Police in the Midlands say they do not have time or personnel to police handicapped parking.

    Reach Gonzales at (803) 771-8405 or jgonzales@thestate.com.

    Perhaps we could institute something like this here in Chico? Being disabled myself ("confined" to a wheelchair) I find it highly offensive when I see someone park in a handicapped spot, throw up a placard, and then run to the intersection to make the "walk" signal. (happened to me at school) But I have no way to check that person to see if they are truly disabled in some way.
    With this kind of program, matbe we could cut down on some of the illegal use of disabled spots here in Chico.

    Thank You,
    KRS



    Krstofer Evans

    http://krstofer.org/
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    http://krstofer.org

  10. #10
    Senior Member KLD's Avatar
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    We have had a program in San Diego for many years. It is run by RSVP volunteers, but there are many non-seniors in chairs who also volunteer. They are deputized just for this purpose.

    I don't know about South Carolina, but our law is very clear, and it is written on the paperwork you get with your placard. It is a violation to use the placard or park in a handicapped space unless the person who was issued the card is in the car. We have had several very successful sting operations at the stadium where over 500 people were caught in violation of this ("granny is at home") and ticketed. In our area, the ticket is $385.

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