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To the Police Officer Who Harassed Me About My Disability Parking Placard

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Dear Police Officer,

Your arrogance and blatant stereotyping does not suit you. You ruined what was supposed to be my husband’s and my celebration of our five-year anniversary. You assumed my husband and I had stolen someone’s disability parking placard because I didn’t fit what you thought someone who has a disability should look like.

My husband and I just had a long drive from L.A. and were on our way home. We were excited to end the celebration of our anniversary with dinner at Olive Garden. As we pulled into the disability parking in front of Olive Garden, both my husband and I noticed you sitting in your cop car outside of the restaurant. We considered it a bit odd for a cop to be sitting in his car outside of a restaurant on the weekend, but didn’t give it another thought.

My husband was waiting for me outside of my car while I was gathering my things. He noticed when you decided to shine your flashlight on him. When I got out, my husband told me about it, but I just passed it off as maybe you were just looking for someone. We continued our night, went into Olive Garden and got our little buzzer. We decided to go back to our car and wait since it was so busy and there were no places to sit. I noticed that you continued to linger in your car behind us but I assumed you were checking plates, maybe even looking for someone.

The last thing I expected was for you to knock on my car window because you thought I was faking or had stolen someone’s placard. I was shocked that you decided to intimidate me because when I got out of the car I “looked fine.” I couldn’t believe the attitude you gave both my husband and me when you clearly saw that I had a disability placard. You treated my husband and I like we were criminals and embarrassed us in front of a busy restaurant. I noticed how loud you talked, as if you were trying to make a show of how you were going to ticket us. I’m sure you thought you had a good ticket tonight, one for the money when I couldn’t find my paperwork in my glovebox because I was shaking so much out of frustration. So you thought you’d be smart and look me up through my license, but I bet you felt foolish when it showed that I was the rightful owner.

I for sure thought that when you came back after looking up my license, you would apologize for disrupting our night, causing a scene, and just plain being wrong. Instead, you covered up your mistake by saying there have been many young people who steal their grandparents’ placards. And then you left, leaving me completely flustered. My husband and I spent our anniversary dinner upset at the injustice of how you treated me and us. I wish I wasn’t so upset and flustered — I would’ve gotten your name and badge number so I could’ve complained.

To all other police or sheriffs out there, you aren’t doing a service by picking on the people you think don’t look disabled when they walk out of their cars. Disabilities do not discriminate, they affect people of all ages and all types. I think your time can be better served elsewhere besides policing whether or not I’m disabled. It was obvious by your speech that if I was the old lady in the restaurant with a walker, I would not be getting such treatment. Just remember not all disabilities are visible.

Originally published: March 5, 2020
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