November 17 2015

Police to Launch 'Operation Access 3' to Target Handicap Parking Violators

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington Police Department will once again be cracking down on violators who illegally park in handicap spots this holiday season. 


On Monday the Board of Selectmen voted 5-0-0 to allow $15,000 in funds from the Disability Access Commission for Operation Access 3. In this effort there will be extra police details at some of the shopping hotspots in town checking on vehicles parked in handicap spots. 


As the name of the operation suggests, the police, in team with the Disability Access Commission, have done this twice before. The first was last year during holiday shopping time. They did it again in the spring. Before the second operation the belief was there would be fewer violators due to less busy parking lots, but this was not the case. Sgt. Gerard McDonough, who oversees the operations, said that during Operation Access 1 police gave out 154 tickets and 15 fraudulent use citations. In the spring during Operation Access 2 there were 159 tickets distributed and 11 fraudulent use citations. 


The hope behind the operation is to persuade motorists not to park in handicap spots illegally. 


"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," McDonough said at the start of the program last year. "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."


“It would be nice if we didn’t need to have an Operation Access 4,” Selectman Bob Hogan said this week.” 


The $15,000 in funds, up from $10,000 last time, will come from an account filled by the tickets written to handicap parking violators. Hogan said that though the point of the push is not to raise funds, the operation will likely pay for itself. 


Selectman Vice Chair Chris Hartling said parking in a handicap spot illegally is considered socially offensive as well as illegal and asked if violators are doing it on purpose or if they are simply unobservant. 

McDonough said he thinks it’s the former. 


“In my opinion is people are just disregarding the rules,” he said. “The spots are clearly marked on the ground as well as at eye level.” 


One positive note for Burlington is that Disability Access Commission Chairwoman Maura Mazzocca said most of the violators caught parking illegally are from out of town. 


Still, if you are thinking of saving some time and parking in a handicap spot illegally, the message from the police is “Don’t.” 

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