Orlando police crack down on misuse of disabled parking placards

- In the heart of the Downtown Orlando bar district, Orlando Police bike unit Sergeant Michael Massicotte is cracking down on a big problem.  

“It comes down to pure laziness and selfishness,” said Sgt. Massicotte. 

Able-bodied people are illegally using someone else's disabled parking placard, according to police. 

“If I were to go an entire night without finding a violator, I would be pleasantly surprised,” said Sgt. Massicotte.

So every night, as he's pedaling around downtown, Sgt. Massicotte stops to take a closer look at the blue placards. 

“This one, if someone were to come back to the car right now, more than likely they'd be going to jail,” said Sgt. Massicotte, as he pointed at one sedan. 

He says that particular car has two registered owners -- one born in 1938 the other 1960.  The problem here?

“The 1960 person is deceased.  When I run the 1938 person, they come back with no permit at all. So I have a fairly good suspicion this is a fraudulent vehicle. But I don't know what passengers were in it when it was parked.” 

There’s nothing he can do in that situation but try to work his way back to that vehicle later and hope that he sees who’s getting into it.  The city large parking lot between Central Ave and Pine Street at Garland is another spot he often checks.

“This has got five parking spaces that generally, especially during the bar time hours, is flagrantly abused,” said Sgt. Massicotte.  “Just recently this weekend, I had somebody using their child's placard this was at 2:30 - 3 in the morning. There's more than likely not a seven-year-old in the downtown bar district at that time of night,” he explained. 

Then he told us of the woman he arrested who was using a placard registered to a company that drives elderly around.  

“I saw the person park, and their ages (young). I actually followed them to a bar saw them go in.start drinking and walk out.  She was using her privilege of transporting people to just go to the bar basically."  

That’s why Sgt. Massicotte  makes it part of his nightly mission to crack down on violators. 

“I'd like for them to have more respect for the folks who have limited mobility,” he said.

Sgt. Massicotte said he only gets about 45 minutes each shift to look around and verify disabled parking placards.  He said in 2016 he arrested 24 people for illegally using a disabled parking placard of another plus had 13 cars towed and ticketed.  This year, he says he’s made 13 arrests and had 16 cars towed and ticketed.

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