Jailhouse Walk: Disabled parking problems at Broward’s main jail

WSVN — A South Florida attorney says he was kicked out of a disabled parking spot, not once, but twice outside the Broward County Jail. And he does have a legitimate permit that allows him to park in a disabled space. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.

At age 65, and after several surgeries on his knees and hips, attorney Herb Cohen is still representing clients and fighting for what he thinks is right.

Herb Cohen: "And I noticed there’s never spots."

Two years ago, Cohen blew the whistle on Miami-Dade Corrections Officers who were taking up disabled spaces between the jail and the courthouse.

Carmel Cafiero: "Excuse me, you don’t even have a permit."

After 7News exposed the situation, it stopped. Now Cohen has his sights set on parking at Broward’s main jail, which is operated by the Sheriff’s Office. This time, the issue is the availability of disabled parking spots. A public lot is located down the street from the jail’s entrance.

It’s a busy place with attorneys visiting clients, and families and friends visiting inmates, jockeying for parking spaces all day long. There are only two disabled spots and they are at the far end of the lot. It’s a long walk for disabled visitors.

Herb Cohen: "You have to park here, and somehow you have to work your way through the parking lot."

But there are four designated disabled spots right in front of the jail. Cohen says he has been kicked out when trying to park here.

Herb Cohen: "On two occasions, a deputy came out and told me even though I had a legitimate hanger, I had to leave. He basically booted me out of the spot and told me that I had to leave, that this was for BSO personnel."

A series of no nonsense "do not enter" signs stop the public from driving into the area around the jail entrance and accessing those disabled spots. Instead, visitors are directed to the public lot.

Herb Cohen: "This is the only place they can park."

But things have changed. Within weeks of Cohen’s complaints and within a few hours of calls to BSO from 7News, the signs stopping public parking at the jail entrance were taken down.

Veda Coleman-Wright: "That will be our immediate fix, and then other signs will be put up to make sure that it’s clear that the public, those who need to utilize those disabled parking spaces, know that they can do so because that’s important."

Carmel Cafiero: "Broward County, which owns the public lot, is looking into the location of the disabled spots here. Meanwhile, the jury is in on this case, and Herb Cohen is guilty of making a difference. Carmel Cafiero, 7News."
      
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:

Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE
Broward: 954-921-CLUE
E-mail: clue@wsvn.com
You can also send a tweet to @carmelonthecase