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Sacramento deputy under investigation after using disabled parking

A screen grab taken from a Fox40 video shows a Sacramento Country sheriff’s deputy exiting a Circle K store and preparing to get into her squad car, which was parked in a spot reserved for vehicles displaying proper permits.
A screen grab taken from a Fox40 video shows a Sacramento Country sheriff’s deputy exiting a Circle K store and preparing to get into her squad car, which was parked in a spot reserved for vehicles displaying proper permits. Fox40

A Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy is under investigation after a man caught the officer parking her patrol car in a disabled parking space as she made a snack run into a North Highlands convenience store.

The deputy, who was not immediately identified, has worked with the Sheriff’s Department for 27 years, 15 as a sworn officer. Violating the department’s codes of conduct – and the law – could get her fired, Undersheriff James Lewis said Wednesday.

Lewis said he was “completely disappointed” when he saw the video, taken with a cellphone by a concerned citizen who watched as the deputy pulled into a disabled parking space, got out of her cruiser and walked into the store to buy snacks. She didn’t look like she was on a call, the man told Fox40. So, he started recording.

The video, which Fox40 brought to the attention of the Sheriff’s Department this week, focuses on a patrol car parked in a disabled space outside the Circle K on Hemlock Street near Auburn Boulevard. The officer can be seen smiling as she gets back behind the wheel, a plastic bag slung over her arm and a drink container in her hand.

“You always park in handicap when you’re not on a call?” the man asked.

“We’re allowed to get breaks,” the deputy said.

But Lewis said when officers are not responding to an urgent call – one that jeopardizes the life or property of a citizen – they’re required to follow traffic laws and regulations.

“There’s really no excuse for that behavior, and, frankly, it’s completely inconsistent to what we’re all about,” Lewis said. “It comes across as arrogance, that we, as a profession, believe we are above the law. I take offense to that. Not just as a law enforcement professional, but as a citizen, I take offense to that.”

The findings of the internal investigation will land on the desk of Sheriff Scott Jones, who will decide what, if any, discipline is appropriate. That could range from an admonishment to termination, Lewis said.

The man who filmed the video asked to remain anonymous and accused the deputy of running his plates after he put his phone away. The sheriff’s office will try to talk to him as well as the deputy in question before making any final determination, Lewis said.

“We need to determine what exactly brought her to that parking lot, what brought her to that Circle K and why she felt she needed to use that parking space to expeditiously get into the store,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, no matter how embarrassing this is to us as a profession, the department will learn from it and use it as a teaching moment of what not to do.”

Call The Bee’s Marissa Lang at (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter at @Marissa_Jae.

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