April 8 2015

Burlington Police Report Success in Second Crackdown on Handicap Parking Violators

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Police Department is continuing its effort to stop illegal use of handicap parking spots with targeted efforts. 

In a release issued by the department, Police Chief Michael Kent said he is “pleased to report that the Burlington Police Department has successfully completed the second phase of Operation Access, the Department's effort to enforce handicap parking regulations and ensure access for disabled and mobility impaired people.” 

During nine days of enforcement in March, the department wrote 159 parking tickets for illegally parking in a handicap parking spot. The Department also issued 11 citations for the misuse of a handicap parking permit -- for motorists who improperly used someone else's permit to park in a handicap space, the release states. 

This action came on the heels of the first phase of Operation Access that took place last December. During that phase the department issued 54 Disabled Parking Violation Tickets and 15 tickets for the misuse of a Disabled Parking Placard by a person not named on the placard.

The department is now considering a more regular ramping up of enforcement, as the number of citations was virtually unchanged from the first enforcement period in December.

"Our goal is to educate the public about parking regulations and maintain a visible presence so that motorist will know that they risk a fine every time they illegally occupy a handicap parking spot," said Burlington Police Sergeant Gerard McDonough, who oversees Operation Access. "You will pay back the seconds you save by illegally parking in a handicap space by spending a few minutes with a police officer, who will run your plates, write you a ticket, and be glad to discuss the importance of handicap access with you."

During enforcement periods, Chief Kent assigned two officers per day to enforce Disabled Parking laws throughout Burlington, including at the town's busiest shopping centers and the Burlington Mall.

"Disabled parking spaces exist solely to provide those with limited mobility a fair and equitable opportunity to shop, dine, and enjoy everything that our community has to offer," Kent said. "It is not meant to provide a close parking spot for someone who does not feel like walking a few extra yards."

Kent added that his goal for Operation Access is to educate the public so that this program is no longer needed to keep people from taking handicap parking spaces.

The funds for the extra patrols are provided by the Disability Access Commission. In February the Board of Selectmen approved the use of $8,500 for the second round of crackdowns. 

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