On July 2, 2016 I just couldn’t help but think for the millionth time what a joke handicapped parking is here in Sussex County, Newton, NJ, as I was getting a dude to move his car out of the blue zone next to the handicapped parking space my friend Ellen was legally in. I explained to him that she couldn’t possibly get herself out of the car because of where he was parked. Come to think of it, “I’m not sure how he really expected to get out of his car.”
The blue zone he had parked in was part of the handicapped parking arrangement near Dominic’s Pizza and, because he had pulled between Ellen’s vehicle and another, I barely had enough room to walk up to the driver’s side of his car to speak with him. I’m a thin guy and I just had enough room; my Registered Seeing Eye Dog walking behind me.
The guy did move his car without argument or attitude once I got his attention by knocking on his driver’s side window. So, that part worked out just fine.
“However,” people routinely abuse handicapped parking spaces here in Newton and the greater Sussex County area; clearly without fear of being penalized for it by the police and other law enforcement in the area. “So!” It shouldn’t be any shock to officials like Newton Police Chief Michael Richards that the message they are sending to the disabled population is that they don’t care. Of course, particularly where the Newton PD is concerned; I already got that message long ago. So, “No worries Chief.”
But, the question still remains, “Why bother providing the option of handicapped parking to people if you really can’t be bothered to enforce the laws surrounding it?” “And,” if you are a police chief, like Michael Richards, don’t you have an obligation to insure that “all” people in your community are looked after equally? Isn’t equal access for the disabled (which is something handicapped parking is supposed to provide) just as important as anything else Sussex County Officials are tasked with protecting?
If the answer is “No” then why not just do away with things like handicapped parking and equal access in general. What’s the point of having this stuff around if law enforcement and other county officials can’t be bothered to insure disabled people have equal protection under the law?
It’s amazing to me how police in general are all over hate crimes against blacks, gays, and others because of their religion. Even drawing a swastika in the snow on community college property warrants a full criminal investigation here in Newton New Jersey. Yet; no one minds it when a disabled person can’t get in or out of their vehicle because of another person’s lack of consideration; parking illegally for their own selfish needs.
Perhaps, if illegally parking in areas designated for handicapped individuals was considered a hate crime, too, things would be different for everyone in a more positive way. Maybe if police and other officials weren’t so willing to overlook things like the illegal use of handicapped parking; hate motivated shootings, along with other racially motivated crimes, wouldn’t be what they are today.
Maybe if cops and other folks were more willing to write tickets to those who illegally park in handicapped designated spots it would actually cause a community to mature and grow up; sending a loud message that inspires tolerance. It certainly would not hurt the municipality where the ticket was written; the fine for illegally parking in a handicapped spot being five hundred dollars, even here in Sussex County New Jersey, “Home of the Good Old Boys Network to this day.”
“True!” Some would say that I could have just called a cop and filed a complaint. However, I already know from past experiences with the Newton Police Department (run by Chief Michael Richards) that attempting to do that would have gotten me nowhere. When it comes to the Newton PD; I’ve already been told that a cop can’t do anything about a person driving erratically, or even drunk, unless the officer happens to observe such behavior for himself, “Without prompting from members of the community.”
So, all in all, “It is what it is.” Handicapped parking laws and regulations will continue to be broken and Sussex County Officials, especially here in the County Seat, will only protect those they feel like protecting, when it is convenient for them to protect and serve. “What a joke.”