Police SUVs That Aren’t Serving or Protecting: Part II
We owe a debt of gratitude to the police officers who work hard to make our streets safer for all Chicagoans, which includes enforcing traffic laws. And, as I’ve written before, an officer has every right to park his or her squad car in a crosswalk, bus stop, or bike lane if it’s necessary to quickly access a trouble spot in the line of duty.
However, when officers choose to block access for pedestrians, bus riders, and bicyclists with their vehicles simply because it makes their personal errands a little more convenient, that’s a minor abuse of their authority that undermines respect for the law.
Reader J. Patrick Lynch told us about a couple recent examples of this from Lakeview’s Broadway business strip. In the first case, pictured above, Lynch says two officers left their vehicle in the northbound bus stop at Wellington/Broadway while they ate a Korean-inspired fried chicken dinner across the street at Crisp on a Thursday evening. Can’t fault them for their taste in food.
“I asked one of them if that was their vehicle and if he really thinks he should be blocking access to the bus stop,” Lynch reports. “His response, no joke, was, ‘When you’re girlfriend calls us up because you are beating her, I need to have my vehicle close by.’” Not funny.
On a busy Saturday afternoon, Lynch drove by a patrol car that was parked in a crosswalk at Surf and Broadway, even though there was space to park behind the vehicle. After Lynch parked and was walking back to his apartment five minutes later, he saw an officer walking back to the unattended squad car.
Lynch says he asked the officer why he didn’t use the empty space, since parking in crosswalks inconveniences pedestrians and sets a bad example for other motorists. “His response was, ‘Maybe there was a car there when I pulled up,’” Lynch said. “It’s always nice to be lied to by a police officer.”
“Both interactions were very disheartening,” Lynch concluded. “If the CPD can’t follow the law or even admit they might be wrong, what hope do we have for them enforcing things like blocking the crosswalk, bike lane, or bus stop?”