Few could argue Robin Lorenz had a lot on her plate on Aug. 12, probably more than most parents trying to shuffle through school registration.
The Aurora woman had three young children in tow, including a 5-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair.
But Lorenz is used to juggling, so she parked her ramp-equipped van in the space designated for handicapped vehicles in the parking lot of East High. Then she guided the trio into the auditorium, where all district registrations were taking place
After waiting for over an hour in line, then completing the forms, she and the kids returned to the parking lot, only to find a car in the space where the lines were painted in the concrete indicating no parking.
Which meant there was no way for her to pull the ramp down to reload her youngest and the wheelchair.
Lorenz then did what most of us would probably do in this situation: She approached the police officer sitting in his vehicle monitoring the registration lines.
Sorry, he told her. It was private property and there was nothing he could do because no handicapped sign was posted.
Another police officer approached. According to Lorenz, he told his colleague he could ticket the car if he chose since the concrete was marked as a handicapped space.
But neither did anything to help her, she said, except suggest Lorenz put the van in reverse and back out enough to get the ramp down.
“How was I supposed to do that?” questioned Lorenz, with three children, a wheelchair and traffic everywhere.
Lorenz said she and the kids returned to the school and asked the office staff if someone could page the driver blocking her. But the intercom system did not reach into the auditorium.
Finally “after more than an hour in the hot sun” trying to figure out the situation, Lorenz said she was approached by a private citizen, who had been watching her trek in and out of the school.
After explaining the problem, he ended up blocking traffic for her long enough to pull the van out and load the child and wheelchair.
Already frustrated at the lack of help from the police officers, one of whom “did not even get out of his car,” Lorenz became even more upset when the driver of the other car returned and became indignant when confronted. She even demanded to know why Lorenz was parked the way she was.
Turns out, the officer did not have to give the woman a ticket because, according to state law, even though the parking lot space itself was marked for handicapped, there was no posted sign designating it as such.
Why there’s no sign is a question I have. And so does Cmdr. Joe Groom, who says he’ll ask the APD’s school liaison to approach the East Aurora School Board about getting one put up as soon as possible.
“Infuriating” is the word Groom used to describe the way the officer handled this ‘horrible situation.” And he apologized multiple times to the Lorenz family, he told me, after learning about the incident.
What the officer should have done, continued Groom, was what a private citizen took upon himself to do: stop traffic to allow Lorenz to back out the van.
It’s common sense and common courtesy, he said, adding that he would follow up with the officer.
While the motto of the police is “to protect and serve,” noted Groom, “our focus is to serve. And sometimes our officers lose sight of that.”Tags: police