Watch where you park. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has enlisted the help of students from the Lighthouse School to halt unauthorized people from parking in disabled parking spaces.

Local students drew a series of five personalized signs that have been hung next to the disabled parking spaces in Camana Bay, and the hope is they will soon show up at other venues around Grand Cayman.

RCIPS community officer Jonathan Kern came up with the concept when meeting with the students from the Lighthouse School, and they unveiled the new designs Wednesday afternoon at Camana Bay.

“This is really an educational program,” said Constable Kern of the personalized parking signs. “Parking there for a minute is something that really does affect people. It’s a process that some families have to go through to load up their car and drive somewhere. If they can’t park there, it might be a minute for you, but it’s 20 minutes or a half-hour for somebody trying to find a space.”

One of the homemade signs bore the message: “Stop. Respect disabled parking.”

Another had more of a personal touch: “Please do not park in my space.”

The new signs have been affixed to 10 of Camana Bay’s disabled parking spaces. PC Kern said he came up with the idea with some help from the students at the Lighthouse School.

“We were talking about how we can really drive this message home for people,” he said of the project’s origin. “I was doing a day with the kids; we did a Police Day with them, and we had this idea. Why don’t we get these guys to give the message rather than it coming from the police? People sometimes get tired of being told what to do by the police. Maybe if they hear it from the kids, they’ll start listening.”

Chelsea Frederick, a student at the Lighthouse School, spoke briefly about the sign that she had made on Wednesday and said she was inspired to help some of her less-fortunate classmates.

“It’s not fair to always have people parking in their spots,” she said. “It’s not fair that people who actually don’t have special needs problems – or their children aren’t sick or anything – come and park in these spots. It’s not fair for our special needs children. It’s not fair for them to come and do that.”

PC Kern said he hopes other businesses will follow Camana Bay’s lead and install the signs in their own parking lots. The signs cost $45 and can be purchased by contacting the RCIPS and asking for PC Kern.

The RCIPS has recently declared parking in disabled spaces to be a “zero-tolerance” offense, and PC Kern said that if more people are educated about the problem, the frequency should drop off in time.

“If it’s seen, it’s supposed to be dealt with,” PC Kern said. “If you see it happening and it’s reported, the RCIPS has the responsibility and the instruction to deal with it there and then.”

There is no data about how frequently people park in disabled spaces, but PC Kern said that RCIPS officers are cracking down and making sure the spaces are clear for the appropriate people.

“Some days when there’s a lull in traffic, I’ll go out and look specifically for this,” he said. “There really isn’t an excuse. The last ticket I gave out for parking in a disabled bay was 38 minutes past midnight outside a nightclub. Just because it’s very early in the morning doesn’t mean it’s your right to do that.”

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