A law enforcement couple began parking their patrol vehicle in their driveway as recommended by the department to save on response time. However, once the Home Owner’s Association saw the car, they threatened the officers with thousands of dollars in fines for an odd “violation.”
With all the concerns and risks police officers face on a daily basis, where they park their patrol vehicle after each shift shouldn’t be one of them. Unfortunately for one law enforcement family, their biggest threat at the moment might be coming from the Clearwater HOA.
A Florida police officer was taken aback when she was informed by the local Home Owner’s Association that she must stop parking her marked police vehicle in her own driveway or face daily fines, which could quickly add up to thousands of dollars. However, it was the strange “violation” the Clearwater HOA cited that has everyone in disbelief.
According to the HOA, Florida law permits them to ban the parking of “commercial vehicles” in driveways. Of course, once the law enforcement family reminded the HOA that a police car isn’t a commercial vehicle, they received an even more absurd response.
ABC News reports that the HOA is now claiming that the cruiser violates its rules because the vehicle was issued by a “government agency.” The only problem with the HOA’s claim is that there is no known rule prohibiting government-issued vehicles from being parked in homeowners’ driveways.
“The first thought — is it a joke? Like, this is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard of,” said Dan Parri, a family friend speaking on behalf of the officer and her husband, who is also in law enforcement.
Fortunately, as a friend of the law enforcement family, Dan Parri of The Parri Law Firm unhesitantly took on the bizarre case. Speaking on behalf of the officers, he explained that it actually benefits the neighborhood and HOA for the officers to park their vehicles in their driveways because it saves on response time and deters crime.
“Every place that I’ve ever lived, if I had a police cruiser parked next to me I felt safer,” Parri said. “They don’t have that vehicle for the purpose of profit,” Parri argued.
Still, the HOA seems determined to make things difficult for the family. Although a decision by then-Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist determined that police cars are not commercial vehicles, the HOA moved the goalposts, arguing that “government” vehicles are banned.
“Maybe there are bad rules sometimes,” Parri said. “You don’t enforce those rules, you change those rules! We just hope that they can come home to their family and just live their lives, but it’s like now they are being harassed by this association.”
After hearing about the difficulty the HOA is causing, Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter came to the defense of his officers. In a statement, he explained that the association appears to be manipulating rules in order to attack officers of the law.
“The actions of this association to changing the rules is disappointing to say the least,” Slaughter said. “If you are going to change the rules on them, it seems logical to provide a grandfather clause that the association will honor. Not a grandfather clause they changed their mind on honoring.”
Slaughter added that the same community members who are demanding better service from the officers are making it harder for them to go about their daily lives. He added that the officers in question have gone above and beyond and deserve some understanding.
“The community has demanded officers be dedicated community servants and respond, day or night, to emergencies,” Slaughter said. “This officer and her spouse have served her community admirably. When Irma hit our community, they put their kids on a plane to relatives because they both had to work during the storm recovery.”
Unsurprisingly, the HOA isn’t responding to questions by media outlets. However, Chief Slaughter and Parri both plan to meet with local and state officials to push for changes to the HOA so that it can’t attack first-responder vehicle parking.
The issue is a case of small-scale, unchecked government tyranny and enforcing frivolous rules simply because they are rules. Hopefully, the law enforcement family can weather the unnecessary stress and grief the HOA is causing.