With the help of local businesses and residents, Red Oak Police Department hopes to alleviate some of the problems associated with handicapped parking.

Brought to the forefront by Councilman Andy Bell during the Dec. 10 city council meeting, Police Chief Craig Rudolph addressed the issues at hand.

“I am not aware of any problems with handicapped parking, but like other traffic infractions, I’m sure we have our share of individuals that park in the handicapped spaces illegally,” Rudolph said in an interview with the Ellis County Chronicle. “I haven’t received any complaints from residents but I’m aware that a concerned citizen brought it to a council member’s attention. Other than that, I am not aware of it being a problem at this time.”

Rudolph said measures would be taken to further educate residents about the law protecting the rights of those parking in designated areas.

“We would like to educate the businesses on the proper signage they need to be lawfully enforceable so we are going to make a letter or flyer explaining the law and what constitutes a legally enforceable handicapped sign,” Rudolph said, noting that the law states that a person must display a blue and white placard or a handicapped license plate to park in a handicapped parking space.

Several business owners told the Chronicle they haven’t witnessed a lot of handicapped parking violations but said that doesn’t meant the problem doesn’t exist.

“I’ve never experienced problems with customers parking in designated handicapped parking spaces since we opened in August,” said Fred’s Red Oak Steakhouse general manager Jason Madrid. “Those spaces are utilized maybe three times a week, but I’ve never seen people parked there illegally. People seem to be understanding as far as that goes.”

“We haven’t experienced anyone parking in our handicapped parking spaces,” said Sonic general manager Richie Williams. “Our handicapped parking is located at the rear of the building, whereas other businesses may have them located at the front of the building.”

“I’ve been here since July and I haven’t had a problem with someone parking illegally in handicapped parking spaces, but I’m sure it goes on,” said Brookshires store director Matt Okorowski. “We had an incident last week whereas a lady parked in a handicapped space and someone put a note on her car that read, ‘You are not handicapped, you can’t park here.’ I knew the lady, so it wasn’t a problem because I know that she usually has her sticker. Other than that, everything has run smoothly.”

Texas traffic laws state that parking privileges for people with disabilities are for when the vehicle is being operated by or for the transportation of a person with a disability.

A person commits an offense if the person parks a vehicle on which are displayed license plates issued under Section 502.253 or a disabled parking placard in a parking space or area designated specifically for persons with disabilities and the person does not have a disability and or the person is not transporting a person with a disability.

E-mail Chicarra at chicarra.dense@wninews.com.