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Volunteers to issue tickets to handicap parking violators
Program will train citizens to help enforce law

           Those handicap parking spaces may be tempting if you’re in a hurry, but soon, Statesboro police will have help in enforcing the law to prevent healthy, able people from misusing the spaces designated for the handicapped.
        The Statesboro Police Department has reinstated its Handicap Parking Enforcement Program, according to Maj. Rob Bryan. The program will be run out of the Statesboro Police Patrol Bureau and supervised by Advanced Patrol Officer Travis Smallegan, under the direction of Capt. Charles Forney.
        This program allows certified citizen volunteers to issue citations to those found violating the law, he said.
        “The HPEP empowers citizen volunteers that have applied for and are accepted into the program to issue citations within the city of Statesboro for violations of the parking for Persons with Disabilities (PPD) law,” he said. “HPEP volunteers are required to be of good moral character, with no felony convictions, and must undergo an in-depth background investigation prior to being accepted.”
        Volunteers will be required to take an oath of office prior to beginning their enforcement duties, he said.
        The volunteers will be provided with a citation book, digital camera and specially marked traffic vest before venturing out into parking lots in search of healthy, able drivers taking advantage of parking spaces designated for those with health issues and disabilities.
        Smallegan will host a training class for volunteers that covers the PPD law, how to determine if a vehicle is in violation, proper citation issuance, department policies and safety practices, Bryan said.
        A person is in violation when they park in a properly marked parking place for persons with disabilities unless they display a valid, unexpired parking permit on the driver’s side dash or hung from the rearview mirror or a specially designed license plate for disabled persons is attached to the vehicle, he said.
        “The person the permit or license was issued to must be a driver or passenger in the vehicle,” Bryan said. “Violations also include parking in any area directly connecting and clearly designed and designated for access to parking places for persons with disabilities, such as the white striped area for loading and unloading of ambulatory assistive devices.”
Citations will be issued for any persons in violation of the law, and the fine for parking in a handicap space without a permit is $190.
        Just because a volunteer isn’t a certified police officer doesn’t mean they won’t have the authority to issue citations, he said.
        “It is a misdemeanor for any person to willfully obstruct, resist, impede or interfere with any designated HPEP volunteer in connection with their enforcement duties or retaliate or discriminate in any manner against a designated HPEP volunteer.”
        There were five positions available fort volunteers, and they have been filled, he said. The program will be enforced starting Sunday, Nov. 1, and will be evaluated after a significant period of time. The program may be expanded in the future to add more positions, Bryan said.
        For more information contact, Bryan at (912) 764-9911.

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