How could a police officer be this wrong?

For the past month or so, there has been an extremely nice Mercedes S550 parking illegally in the handicap spots at my gym. The driver tries to use a temporary (red), expired placard by placing the placard on the dash and then carefully putting their sunglasses case over the part of the placard that shows the expiration date. :rolleyes: I’ve been able to see, however, that the placard is from 2009.

The police have been called numerous times by the gym management upon learning of the situation (by me of course). This gym is located in a very upper-middle class area and the police respond much better than in the Flint-area. However, as I simply report it and then go on with my workout, I’ve never actually known the outcome of any of these police calls other than second-hand info that he had already received one ticket.

Well today I see this same Mercedes parked in handicapped-parking when I arrive at the gym. And he’s still using the ridiculous tactic of covering up parts of his expired placard. Well this time I didn’t wait to report it to the lobby staff and have them make the 911 call (for those who think 911 isn’t the proper channel for these complaints, trust me, I have been advised by a police officer from this very department to do so) and made the call myself.

First of all, I was amazed at the prompt response time of these suburbanite cops; they were at the scene in less than 2 minutes. No exaggeration. Compare that to Flint times, where even murder calls wait an hour or more and it was shocking. But I digress. I went out to talk to the officer, who was pulled up directly behind the Mercedes. The officer, a young female, was sitting there looking at info on her computer screen. What she told me made absolutely no sense and I can’t believe it came out of the mouth of a trained police officer.

Evidently, when she ran the license plate of the Mercedes, it came back as being owned by a business rather than an individual. This fact, the officer told me, prevented her from being able to issue the vehicle a ticket. :dubious: The only option she was left with was to wait outside for a while, in hopes of catching the driver coming back to the vehicle, so she could ticket the individual himself. But other than that, nothing could be done.

Um, what?! So you’re telling me any company-vehicle then has a veritable license to park anywhere it chooses and suffer no consequences? Of course not. Then what in the hell was this officer talking about? If it’s owned by a company, issue the company the ticket. My guess, as this officer was young, is that she had no experience with such matters and she didn’t know how to proceed. But come on, if a car is illegally parked, it gets ticketed. Regardless of the owner. But from a police officer? They are the ones that are supposed to be versed on the ins-and-outs of the law.

Is it the vehicle itself or the person driving it that gets the ticket? If its the driver perhaps she needs to catch the driver ‘in the act’ as it were to issue the ticket.

If that’s not the case and its the owner rather than the driver that is ticketed not being au fait with American law perhaps she still needs to deal with a specific individual and not merely an organisation.

Or perhaps she is just young in service and unsure, or perhaps she is merely human and also unsure. Though in both those cases she should have contacted a more experienced colleague to confirm how best to proceed.

btw I do find it strange that you were told to contact 911 for such an issue.

So do I. But it came from the lips of a uniformed officer from the same department. I would have thought a non-emergency number would get first preference.

And, according to the lobby-staff, this driver (or the car) had been ticketed already at least once. So that, if true, lends credibility to the idea of this particular officer being inexperienced.

I don’t know how it works in Michigan, but in Minnesota, moving violations are against the driver, while parking violations are against the vehicle. So for DWI or speeding, the ticket is against the driver of the vehicle and not the owner if different, but the owner is always responsible for parking tickets. Hence when I drove armored, if we got stopped for speeding*, the ticket was ours, but if someone gave us a parking ticket**, the company paid it***.

Sounds to me like the officer was just inexperienced and didn’t know how to handle it.

  • Only happened once in the time I was there, another truck on the freeway. On our route, we routinely drove 35-40mph in a 30 zone and never even got looked at funny.
    ** Never happened to us either, and we parked all over the place. Handicapped spots, sidewalks, double parked on the street, etc. In 14 months I got asked to move once by a cop.
    *** Unofficial company policy was “If a cop asks you to move, you move. If a meter maid asks you to move, point at the windshield where they can put the ticket and then ignore them, you’re not moving.”

Here a parking ticket has to issued to the owner of the vehicle. If it is registered to a business then the business must list a responsible person for that vehicle. The problem is that the vehicle licensing database that we can see does not show the responsible party name for the vehicle. If an officer wants to write a parking ticket to a company owned vehicle then he must contact the DMV himself.

Finally, some 9-1-1 systems are run by the police service. Others are independent agencies. Just because a uniformed police officer told you to call 9-1-1 does not necessarily mean the 9-1-1 service wants you to call an emergency line for such a matter. There is little consistency from one call center to another in such matters.

Why did you care? You can’t park in it anyway. Are you mad that someone did? Even I don’t get that pissed off, enough to check a placard’s expiration date.

But to respond, my mother just puts up a placard when she’s driving her sister around (who is 12 years older and can’t walk without a walker).

You’re not going to tell us that snitches get stitches, are you?

Err, Jamie’s in a wheelchair, he sure does park in those spots.

Can you report the fraudulent use of the placard to who ever issues them? Or, can you get the name of the company that owns the car and start a civil complaint against them?

I personally do look for placards on cars in handicap spots and I think it is flat out ignorant for people to use them if they don’t have the right. I personally can’t use them and have to find a spot elsewhere, so they should also have to do the same.

I’m more bemused by the fact that someone is going to the gym and parking in the handicapped spot (presumably) to avoid walking an extra few feet. Is the parking particularly limited at this gym?

Also, the cynic in me makes me think that after they ran the plates on the Mercedes, they got back a name that they just don’t want to mess with.

Well I don’t think the proximity to the entrance really had much to do with this driver’s reasoning. That is why I detailed the type of car it was in my OP and said how nice it was; this asshole was parking in handicapped parking to take advantage of the extra space around the sides. He didn’t want his precious Benz scratched.

There are some areas where you do call 911 even for non-emergency issues. I live in such a town. It was really jarring at first. Basically you call 911, and inform them it’s a non-emergency issue and they route you to the correct dispatcher for your town. Apparently the police departments around here don’t have, or use dispatch numbers.

That said, I find the thread title odd. You say “…this wrong” as if this is some earthshaking life or death decision. She’s mistaken or untrained in the exact law in this case. It’s not like she’s just witnessed a murder and let the perp get away or something. It’s also not as if even an experienced officer is going to have every law on the books memorized.

So while the idiot parking in the handicapped spot is a jerk, and this situation needs to be corrected and the guilty party ticketed and fined, really all it amounts to is an annoying inconvenience.

It’s not surprising, shocking, or life-altering that that particular officer made an error of that sort.

Why does the police department deal with apparently private parking spaces? Around here it would be the property owner or manager that would deal with that situation.

Part of me wants to tell you to smash the windshield and steal the placard.

That’s probably not the best course of action.

Option two would be to use a baseball bat on his knees and make an honest man out of him.

I’m not recommending that but I can dream can’t I?

If you’ve got the time and a video recorder then use both to record him in the act walking to his car, removing the placard and driving away. Then phone the police when you have evidence in hand.

Or the guy had a legitimate medical problem in 2009 that necessitated a temporary handicap parking permit. Let’s call it a hip replacement, just so we can get a mental picture. 3 years later, the hip still bothers him, but he’s too lazy/busy/occupied-rescuing-kittens-from-trees to either renew his permit or get a permanent one. So he parks in the handicap spot, gently adjusts his sunglasses case, and hobbles feebly into the gym.

Profiling the guy because he has a nice car is almost as bad as assuming that people in wheelchairs can’t operate steam room doors.

This statement makes me curious about your username.
A person who works at an animal shelter might alert authorities to a potential puppy mill. A pediatrician might speak out against anti-vaxxers. A person with a hearing impairment might insist that the daily specials are added to the menu if waitstaff can’t sign. And a person who uses a wheelchair might be vigilant about able-bodied jerks who shamelessly steal parking access from those who need it. Police cannot spot every infraction of the law, and it is often up to concerned citizens to report illegal activity. Is that really difficult to understand?

Because there are municipal statutes against unauthorized use of handicapped parking on private property.

Jamie, if I had as much trouble as your seem to at gyms, I’d take up something a little less stressful. Like bungee jumping.

In a situation such as this, the owner of the vehicle is legally obliged to inform the authorities who was driving the vehicle at the time.

This covers times such as when an offender claims they were not driving the vehicle, and had lent it to an ‘unknown’ friend but will also cover company cars too.

For tax purposes I once had my vehicle registered in my business’ name, but IIRC I was listed as co-owner. I know that I received tickets while I owned the vehicle, for both moving and parking violations.

I’d call again the next time the car is parked illegally and hope for a more seasoned officer.