Helping Hawaii's Handicapped find a place to park

Gil Elesarke
Gil Elesarke
George Yakowenko
George Yakowenko

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Honolulu Police Department has an enforcement division patrolling parking lots and side streets.

There is nothing unusual about that, except this group volunteers all their time to look for lawbreakers.

Volunteer parking enforcement officers have the write stuff. Writing up citation after citation for illegally parked cars and violators in disabled stalls.

An infraction comes with costly consequences.

"This is the worst citation you want to see. You can go speeding down the highway and it probably won't be as much as this, which is $260," said Gil Elesarke, a volunteer Disabled Enforcement Officer.

For Elesarke, this passion for parking started 6 years ago. Ironically, after he illegally parked in a handicapped space.

Now he sees many able bodies drivers doing the same.

"This elderly woman is walking up pushing her husband in the wheelchair. She could not park because a gentleman was sitting in his car in a disabled stall. So I cited him"

Gil and 19 other volunteers, like George Yakowenko, spend at least 20 hours every month on the job. Writing and recording citations, so there is no debate over violations.

They also make sure placards are current and issued to the person in the car.

"A lot of people misuse placards issued to someone else and if we are suspicious we ask for the ID card," said Yakowenko.

Their work frees up police officers for more pressing details. But the greatest satisfaction these parking enforcers get, is from knowing they're helping those in the community who really, need their own space.

"A lot of times were checking vehicles, shoppers walk by and see what you are doing and they thank you and smile," added Yakowenko.

Each volunteer goes through about 40 hours of classwork before they begin their patrols.

Enforcement is done seven days a week around the entire island.