Parking laws include police

July 24, 2008 4:28:35 AM PDT
Portland police are not above the parking laws, even if they're hungry.

Officer Chadd Stensgaard, who parked his patrol car illegally while making a dinner-break stop at a Japanese restaurant, must pay a $35 fine, Traffic Court Judge Terry Hannon ruled Wednesday.

The infraction came to light thanks to Eric Bryant, who was at the restaurant with friends when Stensgaard parked in a curbside no-parking zone. Bryant, an attorney, filed a citizen complaint against the officer in March.

About five minutes after the officer arrived, Bryant walked up to him and told him he was parked illegally. "He told me he was allowed to do so," Bryant testified. "I responded, 'No, you're not.' I told him he was an officer of the law. He's not supposed to break the law. He's supposed to enforce the law."

Oregon law allows emergency responders to park in no-parking zones when responding to emergencies or chasing suspects. The law says nothing about sushi.

Stensgaard testified that he needed to park his car close by in case he had to respond to an emergency call. He declined to comment after his defeat.

Portland police leaders say they plan to ask city commissioners to make it legal for officers to park in no-parking zones when ordering food or stopping for a restroom break.

Bryant, meanwhile, saw the ruling as a victory for those who don't carry a badge.

"I tried to represent the best interests of Oregonians," Bryant said. "And I believe that Oregonians believe police don't get to ignore the law."