Albany County sheriff’s Deputy Tyson Arnold pulled up next to a gray SUV Friday afternoon at Crossgates Mall in Guilderland.
On one of the busiest shopping days of the year, the SUV was parked in a spot clearly marked for people with disabilities. But no tag was visible.
“It doesn’t appear that it’s supposed to be parked here,” Arnold said, after peering in the SUV’s windows for a forgotten tag, “so I’m going to issue a ticket.”
Arnold was out Friday looking for handicap-parking violators, those illegally taking up spaces meant to provide easy access to buildings for those who have difficulty walking or use wheelchairs.
“It’s extremely important,” Arnold said of the overall effort to catch those illegally taking the spaces. “People that park here that shouldn’t be parking here are using up spaces that people need. They’re specifically designated for people that really need this stuff.”
The Albany County effort, Project Access, is run annually through the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. It was established by the Albany County Traffic Safety Board in 1994.
Outside the Albany County effort, other agencies gave special notice to such violations Friday, as shoppers packed parking lots en route to stores to grab the best deals. In Glenville, Lt. Steve Janik said officers were instructed to keep a close eye out for offenders at the town’s Walmart and Target locations, as well as Price Chopper and Hannaford.
By early afternoon, Janik said he wasn’t aware of any issues with violators. Overall, though, the issue of those illegally parking in the spaces is an important one, especially at this time of year, when parking for holiday shoppers in general is at a premium.
“Parking lots get so full with people, sometimes they see an opening to get in and get out,” Janik said, “but they risk receiving a ticket for that.”
This year’s Black Friday operation in Albany County ran from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Results aren’t expected to be announced until Monday. By noon, though, Sheriff Craig Apple said results overall were light for the morning.
“That’s a good thing,” Apple said. “That means people are getting it. It means they’re finally getting it.”
The effort had some officers specifically looking for offenders, with others keeping an eye out during regular patrols. The effort included all Albany County law enforcement agencies.
At Crossgates, Arnold patrolled the lots for a time Friday afternoon, issuing two tickets. The first to get a ticket, the gray SUV, was parked in a cluster of handicap spots once connected to a closed anchor store on the north side of the mall. Though the store was vacant, the handicap spots remain. Other cars parked in the spots there had the tags.
Arnold wrote a second violation outside the Best Buy store to a car parked in the painted area next to a restricted spot. The painted area is reserved to ensure that vehicles with wheelchair lifts have room to deploy the lifts.
As Arnold wrote up the ticket, the driver came out with two of her friends. She told Arnold that she had a tag, but she forgot it at home. The explanation, though, didn’t address why she was parked on the painted area off limits to any vehicle.
Arnold said later she would have to sort it out with the court.