Unsightly Squad Car?

Article Courtesy of Help Me Howard

Fox News 7 on-line

Posted 08/03/04 


A BSO deputy being told to keep his squad car out of sight. His homeowners association says having it in the neighborhood is unsightly. Can they do that? Here's the Nightteam's Patrick Fraser with tonight's "Help Me Howard."

(WSVN) -- When the Dinkins first saw Eagle Creek in Coral Springs ... it felt like home.

"We liked the area," says Mervin Dinkins, the deputy's father, "the flowers and the trees."

But before they bought a house ... They wanted to make sure their son could park his work vehicle at their home.

Mervin says, "This was so important to us because his car was going to be parked in the driveway, and I didn't want to have problem either with the neighbors or with the association."

Their son Keith is a Broward County Sheriff's deputy ... who brings his patrol car home every night.

The Eagle Creek at Eagle Trace Homeowners Association and it's management company said that's OK.

"He said there was nothing in the regulations that prohibited a police car," Mervin says.

So they moved in. Everything was fine ... for about a month.

"We got a call from the property management company telling us that a few people had complained about a police car being parked in the driveway," Mervin says.

They got this letter from the Eagle Trace Community Association saying, "While everyone appreciates the service that your son plays in protecting the citizens of Broward County. They are concerned that the aesthitics of the community."

Keith didn't want to talk on camera ... but Mervin spoke for the entire family.

"We feel it's sort of an insult to the police where certain people in the community want you to protect them, but they don't want you to live there," Mervin says.

To keep the peace ... Keith tried to park the car in the garage ... It wouldn't fit.

"In order to even attempt to get his police car in the garage he has to clear this platform," Mervin explains.

Keith then offered to park the squad car in another area or cover it with a tarp ... Eagle Trace said, 'Nope, it's a commercial vehicle -- our by-laws forbid itů Get it out of here."

Unable to deal with an ungrateful association ... The Dinkins then called Help Me Howard.

7 News Legal Expert Howard Finkelstein says, "Morally, I really have a problem telling a Broward deputy that he is not good enough to park his patrol car in the neighborhood. And, legally, I think the association is wrong as well. Their documents do not define police cars as commercial vehicles, and I believe the Dinkins would win in court."

When Help Me Howard called the Eagle Creek board of directors ... They refused to even talk to us ...

Their attorney told us the board interprets the association documents to include police cruisers as commercial vehicles.

That's despite the Florida law that calls them emergency vehicles.

Howard ...

"Nothing prevents the association from changing their definition of commercial vehicles to include police cars. But, there is something seriously wrong with an association that outlaws police cars. If they are good enough to protect us, they are good enough to live with us."

The Eagle Trace Community Association, which is the master association in the area ... has voted to not get involved in Eagle Creek's decision to ban the squad car.

As for the Dinkins ... They're really proud of what their son does ... and proud to have his car in the driveway and dumbfounded by their neighbors who have so little regard for law enforcement.

"They're putting their life on the line every day... literally," says Mervin, "so we felt really shocked and disturbed that people would complain about a police car."

Broward's senator Skip Campbell told Help Me Howard that he is investigating abuses by homeowners associations --

Senator Campbell is so upset he is introducing legislation that will allow police officers to park their patrol cars in their driveway no matter what some homeowner association little by laws say.

Problems flashing in front of you? Don't dial 911-- contact us. We'll dispatch a legal team, so you won't be feeling blue.