Magazine article Law & Order

FLEET: Volunteers and Handicapped Parking Enforcement

Magazine article Law & Order

FLEET: Volunteers and Handicapped Parking Enforcement

Article excerpt

Many law enforcement agencies across the country are successfully leveraging their local volunteer resources in order to alleviate budget and manpower constraints. One such area of responsibility is handicapped parking enforcement, traditionally a task conducted by law enforcement officers during regular patrol or during special traffic details.

Many local jurisdictions from Omaha, NE to Longview, TX, and from Colorado Springs, CO to Bloomington, IN, have implemented so-called "Handicapped Parking Enforcement Programs." The South Carolina state legislature is currently contemplating changing state law to allow trained volunteers to enforce handicapped parking laws. The Georgia legislature is considering improvements to its state law by authorizing trained volunteers to enforce such laws. The trend to enforcement of handicapped parking laws by volunteers is obvious.

A handicapped parking enforcement program consists of a group of trained citizens acting to enforce local ordinances and state statutes pertaining to handicapped parking laws. Agency administrators considering or planning to implement a handicapped parking enforcement program should carefully lay out the framework of such a program in order to maximize its benefits to the agency and minimize its costs and potential liabilities.

Volunteer Eligibility

Agency administrators and program supervisors must take great care selecting the right volunteers for this program. A program's success hinges on the commitment, integrity, and professionalism of its volunteers. Ideally, agencies should select volunteers for the handicapped parking enforcement program from the ranks of their Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association and their Citizens on Patrol or Volunteers in Patrol programs.

These volunteers meet appropriate eligibility standards, are already trained to a certain degree, are familiar with the agency by virtue of having graduated from the Citizen Police Academy, and may have a record of successful volunteer activities on behalf of the agency.

Agencies that do not have these programs allowing them to readily draw from an available volunteer pool can recruit volunteers from neighborhood watch programs, from other police-community partnership programs, and from new graduates of a Citizen Police Academy.

Regardless of where suitable volunteers are recruited from, it is highly advisable for agencies to require volunteers to attend and graduate from the Citizen Police Academy in order to familiarize new volunteers with the particular agency and the world of policing.

Agencies that do not operate Citizen Police Academies should set appropriate eligibility standards such as requiring volunteers to be at least 21 years of age, pass a background check, possess a valid driver's license as well as current liability insurance, have a completed program application on file, and successfully complete the program's certification training and any other pertinent training required.

Training

Agencies must provide specific handicapped parking enforcement program training to their chosen volunteers outside of the Citizen Police Academy education and any other police volunteer training in existence. State statutes should be consulted to see whether certain training modules or training length requirements are mandated by respective state laws.

It is recommended to initiate the training with a three to four hour basic training module qualifying and certifying program volunteers. This module comprises a review of the local ordinances and state statutes pertaining to handicapped parking enforcement, the detection of handicapped parking violations, a discussion of actions and options to take when observing a violation, the teaching of the technical aspect of writing a parking warning or citation form, a primer on personal safety and on how to avoid confrontation, a discussion of ethical and professional conduct, and a review of any additional assorted policies and procedures necessary for the successful operation of the program. …

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