Mahoning County officials have differing interpretations as to who’s entitled to park at the curb along the perimeter of the county courthouse in areas designated “police vehicles-only” along Boardman and Market streets.
“Prosecutors are law-enforcement officers,” said Maj. William Cappabianca of the county sheriff’s office.
County-owned cars driven by assistant prosecutors qualify to park in those zones, Cappabianca said, adding that he was unsure whether those prosecutors are entitled to park their personal vehicles there.
Cappabianca said he was unaware that prosecutors were parking there until The Vindicator inquired about the matter.
The major said judges are authorized to park in the police-vehicle zones.
Although he could not cite specific rulings, the major said the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that, for security reasons, judges may park within the view of sheriff’s deputies at the courthouse.
However, a top court spokesman said he could not find any rulings by the justices on this matter.
“Ultimately, the sheriff is responsible for the judges’ security,” the major said.
“Any public-safety vehicle can park there,” if it has emergency lights, a siren and an emergency radio, including police, fire, and emergency-management vehicles and ambulances, said Paul J. Gains, county prosecutor and a former city police officer.
Prosecutors probably don’t have the authority to park county vehicles there if they don’t have the emergency lights, siren and radio, he said.
Gains said his assistant prosecutors are not entitled to park their personal vehicles in the police-vehicle zones.
In his opinion, Gains said judges are not entitled to park there because “they don’t have police vehicles.”
Judicial parking privilege
For security reasons, the county pays $75 per month per parking space for seven common pleas judges to park in a nearby garage, for a total of $6,300 for 2014, Judge Lou A. D’Apolito, presiding and administrative judge of common pleas court, confirmed.
Read more opinions on the matter in Sunday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.