A photo went viral on Monday showing what appeared to be a police cruiser parked in a handicap parking space — which would be acceptable only if an officer were responding to an emergency. But this police car in Lafayette, Indiana, was parked outside an IHOP chain restaurant.
The photo, which certainly presented what in PR terms would be called a “bad look” for the Lafayette Police Department, was posted Monday on the internet forum Reddit by a user under the screen name “TheToolMan,” who accompanied the photo with a comment.
“My local police must be responding to a pancake emergency.”
Needless to say, the photo sparked a strong reaction not only online, but in Lafayette as well, with the city’s mayor and county sheriff being peppered with complaints and promising to investigate the gaffe.
“I feel like it just shows the public that the police feel like they can do whatever they want, park wherever they want, which I feel like they shouldn’t be able to,” one Lafayette resident, Abby Larowe, told local TV station WLFI. “Especially when those spots are reserved for people who are actually disabled.”
Here is the full image of the viral photo…
But on Reddit, some commenters defended the officer, who was later identified as Jason Savage, who was inside the IHOP eating breakfast at the time. The Reddit users noted that legal handicapped spaces must have standing signs, and that a handicap symbol painted on the asphalt is not sufficient.
“It’s not a legal handicapped spot. There are a few near my house with the paint still on the pavement, but the signs have been removed,” wrote one commenter. “Kind of s****y to repost a picture of someone legally parked in an attempt to make the officer look bad — there are real handicapped spots the officer isn’t taking up.”
Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly said basically the same thing — the space was not properly marked and that even a civilian vehicle parked there could not be ticketed for that reason.
Nonetheless, Flannelly said his department found the incident “incredibly disappointing… and embarrassing.”
The chief said that Officer Savage came forward voluntarily and apologized for parking in the handicap space — even if the space was not legally marked — saying that he did not notice the handicap logo painted in the parking space.
Not everyone is respectful even of legal handicap spaces, however. In March, as reported in the Inquisitr story at this link, an Ohio woman, who had lost a leg as a result of an automobile accident, complained about another driver parking in a reserved handicap space, only to receive an anonymous note on her car calling her “crybaby one-leg.”
[Image: TheToolMan / imgur.com]