They Gave My Cruiser a Trespass Warning!

…Updated below…

The other night there was a knock at my front door and I saw a guy in plainclothes wearing a badge.  It was a command officer from the small city in which I live (but do not work).  He apologetically told me I could not park a marked police car in my driveway!

I recently received a new slicktop CVPI that is striped and lettered.  My old cruiser, old as in a 2001 Crown Vic, was an unmarked unit.  The command officer said my new marked car is a “commercial vehicle” and violates the city code banning the parking of commercial vehicles on residential property.  He said they received a citizen complaint.  Seriously?  It’s a POLICE CAR!

He was polite, and I respectfully responded in kind, but I told him my understanding was that police cars are government vehicles and not commercial vehicles by state law.  He said he did not agree.  Meh.  I said I would handle the problem and we parted company with a handshake.

My solution was to do what I do every day.  Research.  I looked up the city ordinance he was referencing.  Yep, commercial vehicle…parking…residential lots…prohibited.  Not a problem.  I consulted my legal advisor, a fellow officer who is Florida Bar certified, to whom I owe a cup of coffee as retainer for each nugget of advice.  He said this “disagreement” was a common mistake.

A Florida Attorney General’s Opinion (05-36) clearly states that police cars are not commercial vehicles.  Said then-Florida Attorney General Charlie Christ, “Public safety is the first duty of government, and law enforcement officers are among the most heroic citizens in our society.  To suggest that these officers are somehow engaged in commercial activity stretches common sense beyond the breaking point. Officers provide an invaluable public service, and the visible presence of a police car in a residential neighborhood can only contribute to the safety of that neighborhood.”  Ha!

AG Crist further opined, “The provision of law enforcement services is an integral and constituent part of government. It is the performance of a governmental duty owed to the general public at large. This office has previously recognized that the assignment of a police vehicle to an officer to drive during off-duty hours to provide quicker response when called to an emergency would be of a direct benefit to the public. In addition, the presence of a police vehicle in a neighborhood may serve as a deterrent to crime. Clearly, the provision of law enforcement services does not constitute a commercial enterprise.”

I discovered that many of our officers had run-ins with local codes, Homeowner’s Association rules, or rude citizens over the parking of marked police cars in residential neighborhoods.  I had a marked K9 cruiser for over 8 years and never had this problem.  Okay, that was in the 1990’s.

What to do!  What to do.  Well, I don’t own the car.  I sent an e-mail through my Chain of Command requesting relief from the issue.  I hyperlinked the small city’s ordinance and AG opinion for the higher-ups to peruse.  Remain dispassionate and professional, I say.

At this time, the snit is in the hands of my Command Staff.  The new Crown Vic, which sits proudly in my driveway each day, has not been cited or towed…yet.

Randall

Update:  The small city command officer stopped by again.  He apologized for any inconvenience and said he had reviewed the AG’s opinion my PD has sent over.  He said my cruiser could stay.  I was at the least pleased that he came over in person and looked me in the eye when he admitted he had been wrong.

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6 Responses to They Gave My Cruiser a Trespass Warning!

  1. M@ says:

    I used to live at a property where the head of the HOA wanted to tow all commercial vehicles from the property, including 5 marked police cars.

    He actually got into a yelling match with the tow truck driver when the driver refused to tow any of the cruisers.

    Thank god he ended up getting foreclosed on.

    • Randall says:

      M@,

      If my cruiser got towed, I think our City Attorney would be the first one called. Some HOA “board members” take their responsibilities too seriously. Politicians, too.

      Randall

  2. Paul Carlson says:

    REEEEDICULOUS! What neighbor wouldn’t want a marked cruiser in their neighborhood? If you run into trouble Randall, you can always park it at my house, my neighbors won’t mind, and we have plenty of space! 😉

    • Randall says:

      Uh, Dude, you live in another state! Mileage and per diem would be kinda excessive.

      I am finding out all sorts of people have problems with these type of squabbles. One of my friends has an HOA that just began handing out $800 fines for all manner of petty transgressions. Worse are the stories of HOAs filing liens against peoples’ homes for rule breaking!

      I’m glad my situation was rectified with an email, but others are more luckless than I.

      Randall

  3. R. Rodriguez says:

    Although I believe that it is good to have marked police vehicles in a neighborhood I don’t believe it is fair to a person who has a clean well kept work vehicle to be able to park their car in the driveway. Government or commercial classification you are still bringing home a car that doesn’t belong to you that helps you make a living. The person that drives that commercial vehicle uses that income to pay for those HOA dues just like everyone else. In general many HOAs just need to jump off a cliff and realize that not everyone is a white collar worker.

  4. Pingback: They Stole my Crown Vic! | ThinBlueFlorida.com

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